Things That Matter More for Your Health Than Your Weight – Health is not as simple as how much you weigh. While I’m not discounting that weight can play a role in your wellness, you can’t boil down every aspect of your health to the number on the scale. That’s a form of fatphobia.
There are factors affect your health more than your weight, many of which are not within your control. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are five determinants of health: a person’s genetics, environment, physical habits, medical access and social factors. Mental health is also an important factor. Here’s what to know.
Things That Matter More for Your Health Than Your Weight
Our genetics decide a great number of things for us. It’s more than just Slot what we look like — the genes we inherit influence our health. You can have a genetic predisposition to develop diseases and conditions like high cholesterol, certain cancers, sickle cell disease and diabetes. A predisposition doesn’t automatically mean you’ll develop the condition, though your chances are higher.
There is also a genetic component to weight, with select genes predisposing someone to be larger or smaller. Certain genes influence metabolism, appetite and body fat distribution.
Environmental factors like where someone lives and works will also influence their health. Many other things are also considered environmental factors, like access to clean water, food, air quality and exposure to harmful toxins. Many people may not have to think about these things. You turn on your sink, and water comes out. However, the World Health Organization estimates roughly 12 million deaths annually are attributed to environmental factors.
Studies have shown that people exposed to harmful air pollutants are 17% more likely to die of heart disease. Indoor wood and kerosene burning or exposure to biomaterials also increase the risk of heart-related death. Those with fewer resources to seek general or specialized treatment are more likely to experience worse health outcomes.
Let’s think about physical habits in two parts — what we eat and our physical activity.
Our diet choices hugely impact our health: We are what we eat. A diet filled with heavily processed foods and saturated fats can negatively impact your health. It increases your risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and certain cancers.
Most people associate a poor diet with obesity. However, you can be thin and have unhealthy food habits, just like you can be heavy and make excellent nutrition choices. Your weight is influenced by many things in addition to diet, so it doesn’t tell the whole story. Your metabolism, or your body’s ability to process what you eat, also plays a huge role.
The other side of our physical habits is exercise. Consistent physical exercise is one of the most important things we can do for our health — it keeps our body strong and reduces our risk for chronic conditions. Exercise is good for you no matter your size, and the negative stereotypes about heavy people being inactive aren’t true. Our bodies have different baselines, so it’s possible to be fit and still weigh more than someone who doesn’t exercise at all.