It’s time to stop demonising fat – what matters is where it’s hiding, says body MRI expert
You say it’s only in recent decades that fat has been demonised. What do you mean?
For thousands of years, people who would now be considered overweight were admired. To be large was a sign of prosperity, and was associated with fertility. If you look at paintings and drawings over thousands of years, you are always going to see women with a body mass index above 25, and up to 30, who are considered beautiful. It is only in the last 30 years that we have seen a drop in BMI in such portrayals and the concept of health related to lower and lower BMIs.
Have we really got our ideas about fat so wrong?
If you stop people in the street and ask them if they are happy with their amount of fat, they will say no. If you then ask if they want to reduce it, they say yes. Ask by how much and they will say they want to reduce it completely. Getting rid of fat should not be the aim. The aim should be to have a healthy amount, but nobody thinks in those terms. We have demonised it.
Who is to blame for fat’s bad press?
There is not a day that goes by without an article in a newspaper or magazine telling you how to reduce fat. Not a single article will say, look, not only is a certain amount of fat good, but it is essential for your well-being.