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IE141-020In our community, we have a very deep appreciation for curves and a little “meat on the bones.” But we still seem to lack clarity around the issue of Thick vs. Fat. Countless jokes have been told about the matter, and it’s an interesting debate. Do the two weight classes even over lap? An amusing piece by Darryl James explains the male perspective on the matter. In his words:

Ok, fair enough, but dig the follow up:

Albeit that sounds like a pretty chauvinistic opinion, it’s one worth examining. For one thing, who’s to say that men haven’t grasped onto the term “thick” to compensate for an insecure fondness for larger women? I digress…

Scientifically speaking, the Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator is an ideal tool to determine the difference between being a brick house, and just a plain old house. Your BMI is determined by a special mechanism that uses your height and weight to determine your category. The continuum spans from the grossly under-weight, to the massively overweight.

With the increase of obesity in the US, perhaps James may have a point. Talk of enlarging seat sizes on buses and trains can lead one to think that there is a push to normalize massive corpulence. At the same time, one could see it as an ‘evolved’ societal shift that recognizes that we are not all meant to be exact cookie cut outs of one another.

So putting the theory to the test, would it be safe to say that Serena Williams = thick and Monique = fat? What category does Queen Latifah fall under? And how about Jennifer Hudson? The BMI may be a helpful tool for some, but we tend to use our own cultural values as a determining factor for such matters.

At any rate, the thick vs. fat debate rages on – between men and women alike. What do you think, Clutchette’s?

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  • Malacyne

    I think there’s a lingering sense of denial when it comes to obesity in black people. When your arteries are being squeezed shut by fat plaques, you have a problem. When your start developing resistance or overwhelming your body’s own blood-sugar balancing mechanisms, you have a problem. When your heart is struggling to squeeze blood around your body, you have a problem. All these pathologies hit black people early and hard. True body fat is measured by water displacing scales or complicated devices – stuff not available to the average person. On average women should have 18- 22% body fat beyond that, the above problems start to develop at a rapidly increasing pattern. The BMI measured via water displacement is very accurate. The tape-measure method and the caliper method has been debunked as inaccurate only giving general BMI with gross margin of errors. Muscle weighs more than fat, so only relying on a numerical weight is also erroneous. Most athletes (15% and under to an amazing 8%) would be considered obese. Stop worrying about the size, ladies. You can be a size 0 and be poised for a stroke, heart-attack and/or diabetes moreso than that thick size 14 girl.

  • b-

    It just bothers me when ‘unhealthy’ people (in that harsh tone) are like, “I love me just the way I am, and no one can tell me any different.” “I’m beautiful just the way I am.” I always question who they’re trying to convince…themselves? -it’s that whole denial piece.
    The thing is: it is SO not about your outer appearance like various ppl. mentioned above. I am on the smaller side, but I am not denying the fact that I could/should be WAY more healthy. Even smaller people have to be careful that they don’t let their ‘fast metabolisms’ lead them to the same problems that overweight people face.
    We all need to stop being in denial. Get to a place of mental health (where you face/embrace the facts) then the physical health piece should follow, which can lead you to the ultimate place of being completely okay and at peace with yourself.

  • blessedinla

    Check this health article out from the Washington Post–

    Is BMI Scale Weighted Against African Americans?

    Tuesday, April 14, 2009; Page HE02

    The body mass index (BMI) formula that is widely used to determine body fat may not be accurate for non-Caucasians, a study published last week in the British Journal of Nutrition found.

    “This scale was created years ago and is based on Caucasian men and women,” said Molly Bray, one of the study’s researchers and an associate professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. “It doesn’t take into account differences in body composition between genders, race/ethnicity groups and across the life span.”

    Bray and her colleagues are using another method, a low-dose X-ray called DXA, to estimate bone density, lean mass and fat mass.

    Based on the DXA reading, the researchers found that an African American woman, for example, may not be overweight or obese even though the BMI formula, which considers a person’s height and weight, indicates that she is.

    “Right now non-Hispanic white women are not considered obese until they have a BMI of 30 or above,” said Bray. “For African American women the number to cross is around 32.” Women in some other racial and ethnic groups were considered obese even if their BMI number was below 30.

    The results were similar in men.

    The discrepancies, Bray said, are due to variations in bone mineral content, hydration state and the density of lean mass in different ethnic groups.

    — Sindya N. Bhanoo