Our Overweight Problem

February 17, 2014 Updated: February 14, 2014

This is something of a follow up to my last column on dieting. I’ve hesitated to write it, but I feel it needs to be written. I’m sure I’m going to get a lot of mail, both pro and against.

Lately there has been a lot written about obesity and very thin models. A few years ago a French model died of anorexia. I hate the “heroin-chic” look. I’ve rallied against it for years. But just because a model is thin or even very thin, doesn’t mean she’s necessarily ill or has an eating disorder.

I’ve been backstage at many fashion shows. These models are very young, in some cases 12 or 13 years old. Up close, they’re thin as some children are, but they don’t look unhealthy and they do eat. I’ve seen them eat. When Twiggy was modeling during the 1960s and 1970s, she was very thin but not unhealthily so. And with age, she put on some weight as most women do. Incidentally, she still looks great.

I find it ironic that so many people are upset about a few thin models when 66 percent of the population is overweight and 33 percent obese. For every one person who dies of anorexia (and this is a serious illness), many more die of an obesity-related illness such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, or certain cancers.

According to doctors, obesity is the biggest health problem this country faces. I think I know why so many people who should lose weight criticize those of us who are thin. It makes them feel better about themselves. They think anyone who is thin must have an eating disorder.

I have a friend who admits to being about 50 pounds overweight. Whenever we go out to dinner together, she makes pointed comments about how much I eat. She doesn’t understand how I can be so thin—I weigh 88 pounds but I’m 5 feet tall and very small boned—and still eat “so much.”

I don’t eat so much—I eat a normal meal, no more than she does. But most people think thin people must have an eating disorder and are amazed when they see us eating.

My friend, Leslie, on the other hand, is built like a fashion model—5 feet 6 inches, very slender, and absolutely gorgeous. She has a very healthy appetite but also good metabolism.

As serious as anorexia is, and it’s very serious, I’m much more concerned about the major health problem of the West (not just America)—obesity.

Miriam Silverberg is a freelance journalist and the owner of Miriam Silverberg Associates, a boutique publicity agency in Manhattan. She may be reached at silverbergm@mindspring.com.