Community Roundup: Would You Rather Lose a Limb or Be Obese?

Survey sparks debate on health message boards

‘Tis the season for putting on a few extra pounds. Not that we need a study to tell us this, but research from the National Institutes of Health shows Americans gain the most weight between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. The good news is, it’s a lot less than most of us think. The bad news is, the majority of us never lose that extra holiday padding, so it accumulates year after year. Our average winter weight gain is slight: about one pound. However, the study found that the holidays pose a special risk for people who are already overweight or obese, because they’re more likely than everyone else to put on five or more pounds before ringing in the New Year. 

With a plate of holiday cookies never far from reach, it’s no wonder that the iVillage message boards are teeming with weight-related discussions this week.

On the Getting Fit in Your 30s board, a member posted a statistic from a 2006 study in the journal Obesity that five percent of people (or one in 20) would rather lose a limb than be obese. As you might expect, women were outraged that this many people could be so fat-phobic.

“Okay I'm not one to say I haven't wished my fat away or made irrational deals with God to slim my thighs or promised all sorts of impossible things to have a more Jessica Biel-ish [behind]. We've all been there. But to say that out of 100 women in a room, there are five who would give up an arm or a leg rather than be obese? How does that make you feel?” asks iv_miranda_d.  

“I hate being over my ideal weight and would certainly not want to be a lot heavier, but when you're obese, there's always hope of losing weight, but a lost limb won't be growing back,” says schnappsers.

When I read about the study, my thoughts drifted all over the place. My first was, who in their right mind would give up a limb to stay thin? But then I wavered. Even though the American Medical Association does not consider it a disability, many physicians and patients acknowledge that obesity can be disabling. Since I love being active, I wondered which would compromise my quality of life more: having one less arm or living with an extra 100 pounds on my frame. Being that I’ve never been in either position, I really couldn’t say. From there, I pondered whether the survey implied that you had to remain obese forever. And even if it weren’t implied, what would my chances of success be in losing that much weight? Dropping that many pounds is not an easy feat. Why would I have any more success than the rest of the population? Even though I don’t have an answer, it is an interesting question to consider. How do you feel about the survey results? Does it prove that the world has a serious prejudice against obese people? And what kind of message do you think it sends people missing an arm or leg? Join the discussion on the message boards or chime in below.

Meanwhile, discussions about weight took a different turn on the Fitness & Health board. There, members want to know whether others’ tales of weight loss inspire or discourage them.

“It's a bit of both,” says libelulle. “It motivates me, but there's a part of me that isn't sure I can accomplish as much in the same amount of time.”

While member krbh2001 finds inspiration in her friend’s dieting achievements, she isn’t sure whether it has an actual effect on her own efforts.  “I have found an old friend who is losing weight and is very inspiring,” she says. “Now I just need to motivate myself to follow in his footsteps.”

How do you find inspiration to lose weight? And are you watching your waistline during the holidays? Talk about your efforts on the message boards, or chime in below.

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