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Think you're programmed to be fat? It's time for a reset

IS it okay to be a little bit fat? This is a question we should probably begin to ask ourselves in this, the silly season, where the Oscars' coverage shows varying degrees of emaciation in the form of our current celebs.

Not so long ago, it was only the celebrity women who seemed to starve themselves in the name of a designer dress for the all-important red carpet moment.

Nowadays the men, too, look emaciated and far too focused on body size and image. Why does this continue? Why do we not gasp in horror at these so-called beautiful people? Why do we think this ideal is appropriate?

It is not

A recent study showed that being slightly overweight lowers a person's risk of dying by 6pc.

The reasons used to explain this were about hormone production in fat stores and about having stores of energy (in the form of fat) to resist the onslaught of illness.

It makes sense

When you use your logic, you can understand that having something in the reserve tank is necessary in case of illness.

When I see starlets on the red carpet I often see frailty. Many look like one false move in those killer heels and a hip could, in fact, be broken. Is this healthy?

Enough fat vs too much fat

I often advise people to bury the weighing scales (preferably in the garden, as a monument to all the diets you been on) and to stop focusing on some ideal weight that exists only in your head. Such numbers can be the undoing of many a diet.

If, for reasons of water weight, you fluctuate upwards on a bad day, in a bad mood, with the wrong hormones floating around, the resultant feelings of failure can put paid to your current diet.

Not only that, but they quite often send you over the edge into an abyss of binge- eating and rapid weight-gain.

The numbers we need to focus on are very different. The weighing scales, when used sensibly, perhaps once a month, are, of course, useful when watching your weight. What gives better information, though, is your waist circumference measure.

Learn how to do this (look up Safefood guidelines) and get your waistband measure to below 32 inches (80cm) if you are female or below 37 inches (94cm) if you are male.

At this point you have achieved a healthy weight, regardless of height or the fat on your ankles!

Mid-section fat is the all-important fat to watch. When you have belly fat you are likely to have fat around your heart, spleen, liver (or within it) and kidneys, and as a result you run a high risk of developing conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.


The World Health Organisation puts it best when it says "a consistent moderate deficit calorie diet and moderate intensity exercise produces more weight-loss".

The key word here is consistency. This is what we find hardest to achieve. We are all very good at following mad-cap diets that promise the world, but don't deliver.

We tend not to like the approach that works best: of consistently refusing dessert; consistently prioritising fruits and vegetables; consistently exercising five times per week.

We want an Angelina body and we want it yesterday! This is why the diet industry is worth so many billions globally, while we get consistently fatter. Dieting does not work.

Your new set-point

The great news is, a little fat is good for your body. As long as you can keep it to below 32 or 37 inches around your waist, you can revel in your good health.

Nigella Lawson always comes to mind; she of a tiny waist yet generous covering of fat. It might be genetics that were kind to her, but the bottom line is, while she keeps her waistline in check, she keeps her health in check.

The even better news is that if you have battled with your weight for decades (think Oprah, you are not alone), then the moderate approach, that produces moderate results can produce a new you.

Many of us believe that if we always bounce back up to our overweight self, we must have a high set-point. While this is true, you can change your set-point by sustaining your lower weight for approximately one year.

If you knew you could be a healthy weight by, say, this summer and sustain that for the next year and never have to battle again, would you think it worth striving for?

This can be the answer to your dieting dilemma. Re-set your expectations, then your body's natural set-point.