1

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Too skinny or too fat?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created October 16, 2012 at 7:06 PM

Which one is worse? somebody called me too skinny yesterday and it got me wondering whether it's better to be too skinny or too fat from a health stand point. i know neither one is good and that's why i'm trying to gain 25 lbs. just want to hear your thoughts on this.

1d0497f8781845ab371b479455bfee8e

(11157)

on October 17, 2012
at 02:00 AM

Because I've heard such nasty comments from big girls to skinny ones. "Eat a sandwich", "Bones are for the dog, meat is for the man". I'm pretty sure they're not expressing concern for a thin woman's health.

1d0497f8781845ab371b479455bfee8e

(11157)

on October 17, 2012
at 01:58 AM

Because I've heard such nasty comments from big girls to skinny ones. "Eat a sandwich", "Bones are for the dog, meat is for the man". How is that not coming from big chicks with self-esteem issues?

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on October 17, 2012
at 12:57 AM

in what part of the world is it seen as okay for people to call thin girls skinny. to me, the word skinny is a derogatory term, when applied to a person, unless perhaps coming from a medical professional. do some girls/women like being called skinny?

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on October 17, 2012
at 12:56 AM

in what part of the world is it seen as okay for people to call thin girls skinny. to me, the word skinny is a derogatory term, when applied to a person, unless perhaps coming from a medical professional. do girls/women like being called skinny?

089dd41b18fbb95ebb5347cded708d98

(5635)

on October 16, 2012
at 11:30 PM

wow that first chart is pretty interesting.

089dd41b18fbb95ebb5347cded708d98

(5635)

on October 16, 2012
at 11:28 PM

thanks for your answer. i do have ulcerative colitis so that's what my skinny frame is from. since i started paleo, though, my lab work has gotten a lot better- mainly my protein levels. they used to be "concentration camp" numbers (my doctor's words).

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on October 16, 2012
at 11:24 PM

Also, who cares if it's a "big girl" who is saying you look too skinny? Could be someone just expressing concern in a less than ideal way. People other than "big girls" have self esteem issues, and people often use the "too skinny" thing in the same way as the "too fat" thing- an inappropriate, uncalled for way to misguidedly express concern.

089dd41b18fbb95ebb5347cded708d98

(5635)

on October 16, 2012
at 11:23 PM

it was a large woman calling me skinny. i just acted like i didn't hear her because i think it's rude to comment on people's weight. i'm definitely more like the girl in the purple but working on getting bigger.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on October 16, 2012
at 11:21 PM

I think the PC part is that still so so many people think it's a compliment to be called "skinny" because of all the media and "skinny-fying" of products (skinny-recipe, skinny-friendly).

3a9d5dde5212ccd34b860bb6ed07bbef

(1782)

on October 16, 2012
at 08:22 PM

Wow that would be really informative and helpful if the BMI wan't a totally useless measurement.

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5 Answers

6
D41bd7b3d3b962eb0146f471eb632f56

on October 16, 2012
at 07:47 PM

For a woman, being a little heavier has actually shown to have to protective qualities compared to being underweight (less risk of osteoporosis, more longevity, increased fertility).

I'll also point out that modern views of "appropriate" weight for women are lower than what is probably actually optimally healthy. Fertility tends to start to decline for many at around 18% body fat. Some women naturally are thinner than this and are still fertile at and even lower BF%, but that's pretty much the start of the range, though for others, like me, who spent more of their adolescent life at a higher bf%, that cutoff point starts earlier. For me, that's around 20%. Our culture encourages an "ideal" and "fit" body fat percentage for a women be around 15%, which would already cause health problems for many women.

Some great resources on this are: huntgatherlove.com and paleoforwomen.com

5
1d0497f8781845ab371b479455bfee8e

(11157)

on October 16, 2012
at 07:23 PM

It depends on your muscle and fat mass. If you're thin but have plenty of lean muscle, you're fine. If you're thin and have little muscle mass, then that's no bueno.

Besides, it all depends on who is calling you skinny. If it was a big chick, then she's just projecting her low self-esteem on to you. I can't understand why it's okay for people to call thin girls "skinny" but it's un-PC to call big girls "fat".

"Lean" vs. "Skinny"

too-skinny-or-too-fat?

089dd41b18fbb95ebb5347cded708d98

(5635)

on October 16, 2012
at 11:23 PM

it was a large woman calling me skinny. i just acted like i didn't hear her because i think it's rude to comment on people's weight. i'm definitely more like the girl in the purple but working on getting bigger.

1d0497f8781845ab371b479455bfee8e

(11157)

on October 17, 2012
at 01:58 AM

Because I've heard such nasty comments from big girls to skinny ones. "Eat a sandwich", "Bones are for the dog, meat is for the man". How is that not coming from big chicks with self-esteem issues?

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on October 17, 2012
at 12:56 AM

in what part of the world is it seen as okay for people to call thin girls skinny. to me, the word skinny is a derogatory term, when applied to a person, unless perhaps coming from a medical professional. do girls/women like being called skinny?

543a65b3004bf5a51974fbdd60d666bb

(4493)

on October 17, 2012
at 12:57 AM

in what part of the world is it seen as okay for people to call thin girls skinny. to me, the word skinny is a derogatory term, when applied to a person, unless perhaps coming from a medical professional. do some girls/women like being called skinny?

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on October 16, 2012
at 11:21 PM

I think the PC part is that still so so many people think it's a compliment to be called "skinny" because of all the media and "skinny-fying" of products (skinny-recipe, skinny-friendly).

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on October 16, 2012
at 11:24 PM

Also, who cares if it's a "big girl" who is saying you look too skinny? Could be someone just expressing concern in a less than ideal way. People other than "big girls" have self esteem issues, and people often use the "too skinny" thing in the same way as the "too fat" thing- an inappropriate, uncalled for way to misguidedly express concern.

1d0497f8781845ab371b479455bfee8e

(11157)

on October 17, 2012
at 02:00 AM

Because I've heard such nasty comments from big girls to skinny ones. "Eat a sandwich", "Bones are for the dog, meat is for the man". I'm pretty sure they're not expressing concern for a thin woman's health.

2
A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on October 16, 2012
at 08:20 PM

It's an interesting question, and not one I have a simple answer to. There does seem to be a sort of U curve between weight and health. For example, this prospective cohort study of about 50,000 Chinese women reported the following correlation between BMI and mortality:

Similarly, a massive compilation of several epidemiological studies (NHANES I, II, & III) measuring over 2 million deaths reported that mortality rates were higher among underweight and obese weight groups, but the normal and overweight weight groups had similar rates of mortality (sorry if these graphs are hard to read):

The trend in these and other studies seems to be that being underweight and obese, but not overweight, increases mortality (confounding variables are often abound in observational studies of this nature, so that's worth keeping in mind). However, BMI is a notoriously poor marker of body fat which doesn't take musculature into account very well. This is important because more lean mass (such as muscle) increases BMI.

My theory is that decreases or increases in BMI from normal weight can indicate a loss or gain of lean mass. Once you reach obese levels, you're likely mostly increasing fat tissue and not lean body mass, so mortality and disease increases.

I'm assuming there's more to this issue, but generally I'd say being too skinny may generally be worse for you than being too fat (assuming overweight, not obese levels of BF) because its less conducive to possession of lean body mass,.

089dd41b18fbb95ebb5347cded708d98

(5635)

on October 16, 2012
at 11:30 PM

wow that first chart is pretty interesting.

1
8425f2fefc608f58a8cc0f2dcaa93341

(381)

on October 16, 2012
at 07:59 PM

It's a good question.

This article in the New York Times talks about a number of studies that suggest being overweight is better than being normal or underweight, at least if you have certain diseases.

This article though suggests that it may not only be true among those that have certain diseases.

...mildly obese and overweight people, meanwhile, had similar or even lower death rates than people of normal weight...

Those with the highest risk of premature death: Underweight people.

3a9d5dde5212ccd34b860bb6ed07bbef

(1782)

on October 16, 2012
at 08:22 PM

Wow that would be really informative and helpful if the BMI wan't a totally useless measurement.

0
22b9b81bcc649b53faa731f3e6a9aa48

(50)

on October 16, 2012
at 08:12 PM

I think that both underweight and overweight can be symptoms of underlying health problems, although it varies among individual situations. Being underweight can be a sign of some pretty serious health problems like eating disorders, Crohn's or Colitis, etc. I think it is usually a sign of malnourishment or nutrient malabsorption, unless someone is naturally very thin (although it's pretty uncommon for someone to be naturally "underweight" as defined by BMI). So clearly, being underweight is not great for optimal health, and is also not great for a woman's fertility. The same goes for being overweight. I believe that some people can be overweight and still be healthy, but for a lot of people there are underlying health issues. Eating disorders can also cause weight gain, as can thyroid conditions, PCOS, etc. So I don't think one is necessarily "worse" than the other, it just depends on the individual situation and their health status.

Also, optimal weight varies among individuals. I think the idea of a set point has some merit. There is usually a particular range where one's body is most comfortable and in homeostasis, and it could be higher or lower depending on the person.

089dd41b18fbb95ebb5347cded708d98

(5635)

on October 16, 2012
at 11:28 PM

thanks for your answer. i do have ulcerative colitis so that's what my skinny frame is from. since i started paleo, though, my lab work has gotten a lot better- mainly my protein levels. they used to be "concentration camp" numbers (my doctor's words).

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