The Perfect Waistline?

The New York Times talks to Dr. Walter Willett, a nutritional epidemiologist at Harvard University, about achieving the perfect waistline. Check it out:
What did you weigh at age 20? As it turns out, that’s when your body probably settled into its ideal weight. By 20, almost everyone has stopped growing, and the pounds gained in the years following are mostly fat, says Dr. Walter Willett, a nutritional epidemiologist at Harvard University.


For most of us, what you weighed at age 20 is a far better gauge for judging your ideal weight than the standard weight and body mass index charts. Most of those tables cover such a wide range of weights that they can be misleading. According to many of them, the perfect weight for a woman who is 5-foot-7 could range anywhere from 118 to 159 pounds.

But what if that same woman weighs 159 pounds today, at age 40, but weighed 120 pounds in her early 20’s? That means her body has packed on 39 pounds — a gain of more than 30 percent, or about two pounds a year. The charts may say she’s healthy, but studies show that even a modest weight gain in adulthood is associated with a higher mortality risk.
This sounded familiar. So I asked Dr. Fuhrman about it. Here’s what he had to say:
That is essentially what I have been telling patients in my practice for years and years.
Now, in Eat to Live Dr. Fuhrman sums up how he determines if you’re thin or not. Have a look:
Most people lose weight and then stop losing when they have reached their ideal weight. You are not the judge of your ideal weight; your body is. As almost everyone is overweight, many people think they are too thin when they have reached their best weight. I have many patients who, after following my plan to reverse diabetes or heart disease, report, "Everyone tells me I look too thin now." I then measure their periumbilical fat and check their percentage of body fat, and usually show them they are still not thin enough.
I know a lot of you just pinched your tummy.
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Comments (3) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
LLouise - September 25, 2007 7:07 PM

I totally get this one, but, it can be difficult to know whether one *is* too thin.

Bob W. - September 26, 2007 9:56 AM

The proof is in the "produce" not the pudding!! I had lab work done in May Cholesterol was 242. LDL was 136. I decided then and there to visit the produce isle and forego meat and dairy. On Sept. 1st. I went back and had the blood work done. When I went to the Dr. he was overjoyed. My Cholesterol was 192. My LDL was 104. He wanted to know how I did it and how I started to lose weight. I told him and he said frame these results. I told him I wanted to get to my college weight. I am headed there now and will let my body decide what is my best weight. We as a society eat too much dairy and too much meat. It is time to stop the madness and eat our veggies. Eat healthy and live longer!

Kirsten - September 26, 2007 12:02 PM

This must only apply to being at a healthy weight when one was 20? I was about 150 from 16 to 30 at 5'4.5"--too heavy--and it was only with ETL that I finally hit a healthy weight. That may help me understand why, after 2 years of being on ETL, I am hovering around 130, when I think my target weight is lower. Good "food for thought", I guess!

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