Overweight, often looked upon humorously, is in reality a serious disease. With its complications it shortens the prospects of life. It can usually be prevented and treated by an intelligent choice of food and exercise.
IN a previous chapter we have discussed the problems of underweight. We have pointed out that in some in-stances we are dealing with inherited metabolic errors or birth handicaps. Many patients with these limitations lead long useful lives, and because of their handicaps, out-live their friends who seemingly were born with more robust health. We now turn to a group of patients who are overweight,the overwhelming majority of whom are overweight because they were born with well functioning digestive organs, and can and do over-eat. They are a happy group of people. They enjoy relative freedom from digestive disturbances, and their nerves seem to be free from the effects of constant or harassing strain.
Opinions have differed as to what body weight is a step beyond the optimum, and ideas of what constitutes the desirable human form are influenced by personal likes and dislikes. Average and optimum weight tables seem to agree fairly well up to thirty years of age. Beyond ‘ this age the average weights run too high. About this time in life many persons become less active physically by choice or their economic status may be so favorable that they have more leisure and indulge the appetite more. Physiological changes in the functions of the body during middle age, too, must be thought of. We, there-fore, advise the adoption of the weight as given in the average weight tables at thirty years of age as a general standard throughout the remainder of life. Individuals with small bony frames should, of course, weigh somewhat less than these tables specify. On the other hand, individuals with heavy bony frames may carry a little more weight. The weights recommended, we believe, may be followed with a five to ten pound variation, depending upon the build of the individual.