Among my pet peeves among people writing or speaking about health matters is a lack of precision in word choice that often leads to an increase in confusion about the subject matter. I’m not sure there is any more topic where this is more prevalent in the United States than the subject of “weight” (which is used imprecisely by most to mean “size” or “excess fat”). Here are the premises, as simply put as possible, that I would appreciate anyone writing or speaking on this subject adopting to convey their thoughts with more clarity:
- weight gain is not synonymous with fat or size gain
- weight loss is not synonymous with fat or size loss
- gaining weight, fat, or size is not intrinsically unhealthy
- losing weight, fat, or size is not intrinsically healthy
Being heavy is not something to be avoided, as dense muscles, dense bones, and sufficient (or even a little extra) fat are signs of good health. I believe it is best to focus on reaching whatever level of health we set for ourselves as a goal and allow our bodies, not our minds, to manage weight, fat, and size. But even for those who do not share that belief, being more accurate in writing about these matters seems to me a worthy goal.