Health comes in all shapes and sizes.

January 16-22 is Healthy Weight Week in the U.S this year. The topic is so popular that many nations celebrate it at different times, including Australia, the U.K., Canada, and India. And there’s a reason we don’t call it “National Losing Weight Week.” Our relationship with weight has become complicated.

In fact, with unrealistic images of the body and confusing information about weight loss scattered nearly everywhere, Healthy Weight Week is at least as much about preventing or halting the preoccupation with weight as it is about achieving a weight that is uniquely healthy for each person.

Keeping Company with the Killers

First, let’s face it, obesity is near epidemic proportions in the United States, with almost 40% of adults over age 20 weighing-in as obese and more than 70% qualifying as overweight. Weight problems have become a sweeping national characteristic.

And overweight is connected with at least three of the top 10 deadliest diseases, including heart disease, stroke and diabetes. So, clearly, we as a nation have a big problem, both in scale and in the seriousness of its consequences.

And yet, our preoccupation with weight and body image is bringing another killer in through the back door. It is estimated that more than 30 million people in the U.S. suffer from eating disorders that include anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating, among others. And eating disorders have been called the deadliest behavioral disorder of all.

These deadly disorders can be prevented, however, and they can be prevented from getting worse once they develop. That this fact is so little known might be the saddest part of this sorrowful story.

The Numbers to Watch Are Not on the Scale

Paying attention to weight alone misses the point, and, for many people, it can do real harm. Preoccupation with eating and weight often precedes the development of an eating disorder, and when that preoccupation reaches certain levels of frequency and intensity, it becomes one form of eating disorder itself.

More specific factors – some of them related to weight – are the real signs to watch. Cholesterol levels, blood glucose, and blood pressure are just a few of them. Achieving healthy levels in these measurements is a much better way to determine whether your weight is right for you than just stepping on the scale.

Many of the real solutions to finding and keeping your own healthy weight are surprising. They include unexpected advice like, “stop dieting,” and seemingly unrelated steps like, “Identify and build on your own special talents, traits, and interests.” The University of California at Irvine has compiled a handy list of these “Healthy Living Habits for a Lifetime,” as part of celebrating Healthy Weight Week.

Keeping Tabs on “Healthy” Calls for a Professional

As the nature of these measurements suggests, a family physician may be your best guide on the path to a healthy weight, the weight that is right for you.

To schedule an appointment with us at Global Family Medicine, call us at 843-815-6468. And if you ever need urgent medical attention, Global Urgent Care accept walk-ins every day of the week.