Conventional thought would have you believe that you are mostly in control of your health and weight. Certainly this is the tact used by the wellness and diet industry – if you don’t reach optimal health or lose weight the obvious reason, the only reason, is that you aren’t trying hard enough.
This could not be further from the truth.
As individuals we are, at best, in control of about 30% of our health
Social class, level of education, exposure to stress and violence are all bigger, more powerful determinates of health that your weight.
Weight vs. Behaviours
A 2012 review of 133 million people who were followed for 14 years concluded that, when it comes to health and weight, how many healthy habits you engage in determines your health and risk of dying, from any cause (all cause mortality) rather than what you weight. The health behaviours that have been identified, in this study and in other research, as being helpful for health are:
Getting 5 or more serves of fruit and vegetables daily
12x physcial activity sessions per month
Drinking in moderation – up to 1 std drink/day for woman and 2 for men
Let’s break down the results of this study to highlight just how much of an impact health behaviours have on our wellbeing:
Fitness vs. Fatness
The results from a 1999 study also concluded that when it comes to health, fitness is more predictive of death and ill health than fatness is.
1.Matheson et al (2012). Healthy Lifestyle Habits and Mortality in Overweight and Obese Individuals. JABFM. Available online at: http://www.jabfm.org/content/25/1/9.abstract
2. Wei at al (1999)Relationship Between Low Cardiorespiratory Fitness and Mortality in Normal-Weight, Overweight, and Obese Men. JAMA. Available online at:https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/192035