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Healthy Weight: Why are some people so skinny?

Updated on October 21, 2016

Why do some people seem to always struggle with maintaining a healthy body weight, while others don’t seem to have a problem with their weight? Have you ever noticed that you feel miserable after eating certain foods?
Please research recommended ways to attain, and maintain, a healthy weight. Choose one method that appeals to you. You can pick a diet program that is advertised in magazines or on television, or you can look into what scientists are finding as a result of their research. Then report what you learned.
Finally, please answer the following questions: Can simply watching our food intake lead to success, or should we do other things? How does our body image affect our weight? Does stress play a role in body weight?

A healthy body weight, also known as ideal body weight (IBW), is the maximum weight a person can weigh without being overweight; a healthy weight is calculated based on height, gender, age, build, and degree of muscular development (Ideal Body Weight, n.d.). Many people struggle to maintain a healthy body weight, while others do not seem to have a problem with their weight. The amount of effort a person needs to contribute to maintain a healthy body weight is contingent on their Basal metabolic rate (BMR), their level of non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT), and their genes.

The basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the amount of calories a person burns when they are at rest and unfed; these calories are burned as a person’s body uses energy to keep their heart, lungs, liver, and other organs working and their body alive and well (Clark, 2014). Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) refers to the amount of calories a person burns just from daily living, activities like brushing teeth, washing dishes, fidgeting, maintain posture, and spontaneous muscle contractions (Clark, 2014). People with a high NEAT tend to move around a decent amount during the day apart from their purposeful exercise activities; these people with a high NEAT level are predisposed to have an easier time at maintain a healthy body weight than those with a low NEAT level (Clark, 2014). Genes are a big factor in the ease a person has in maintaining their healthy body weight; people who have the FTO gene weigh on average more than those who lack the FTO gene (Fraser, 2009). It is believed that the FTO gene also influences appetite; those with the gene have a harder time in knowing when they are full which in turn makes it more difficult for them to turn down food (Fraser, 2009). People who seek comfort food when they are feeling depressed tend to have a more difficult time maintaining a healthy body weight than those that do not self-medicate with comfort food.

People that seek comfort food to make themselves feel better often go for the comfort food staples such as mac and cheese, pie, cinnamon rolls, fried chicken, cookies, cake, and more. However, these people should be going for healthier foods that have fewer calories and are better for the body and the mind. Some great mood boosters are spinach , which is an energy booster, peanuts are a great source of the mood-boosting mineral selenium, and yogurt which eases mood swings, depression and anxiety (Herbert, 2013). Just as there are foods that make people feel better there are also foods that make people feel down right miserable. Hot dogs, or any manufactured processed meat like bologna, are the number one food for making people feel miserable. Hot dogs are full of nitrates, a preservative used to keep food fresh; nitrates cause feelings of extreme tension and migraine (Herbert, 2013). I personally have never felt miserable after eating certain foods; however that may be because I am a vegetarian and I stay away from fried and overly processed foods.

As a vegetarian there are many diets that I am unable to try because of the required meat intake. However I have personally found that a combination of healthy eating and consistent exercise allows me to maintain my current weight with relative ease. In addition I have avoided fast food, super sizing, eating more calories than I burn, and eating during passive entertainment in order to maintain my weight (Hales, 2013, p. 189). When researching ways to attain and maintain a healthy weight, I found the low-fat weight loss vegan diet interesting. This principles of the low-fat weight loss vegan diet are to eat foods from plant sources, avoid all animal products, avoid saturated fat, and keep vegetable oils to a bare minimum (Vegetarian Weight Loss, 2010). The low-fat weight loss vegan diet recommends following the diet strictly for three weeks in order to give the body a chance to adapt to the diet and for the person to experience the full effects of the diet; at the end of the three weeks the dieter can choose to remain on the diet, alter it to fit their lifestyle better, or switch to a different diet (Vegetarian Weight Loss, 2010). The diet calls for: eight servings of grains, three servings from the legume group, four servings of vegetables, three servings of fruit, and no more than one fat free sweet per day. I found this diet interesting because it does not dictate the specific foods that a person should eat each day rather it has the number of servings from each food group per day; this allows the dieter to have more control of their diet and gives the dieter the power to alter the diet day to day depending on what he or she feels like eating. The ability to alter the diet from day to day makes the dieter more likely to stick with the diet for the full three weeks. While a diet is the first step to losing or maintaining a healthy body weight, a successful plan must include exercise.

Simply watching our food intake is not enough to lead to success by itself. It is important for weight loss that more calories are burned than eaten. To burn calories requires consistent purposeful exercise; most weight loss plans recommend an exercise period of at least 30 minutes a day with a raised heart rate. A person’s perception of their personal weight, their body image, can influence their weight over time. One study of obese women who believed themselves to be obese, in their early adulthood, lost weight during the next 13 years of their lives; while the obese women who believed themselves to be overweight, but not obese, did not lose weight (Hales, 2013, p. 191). People who perceive themselves as obese are more likely to take the steps to reduce their weight than the people who only believe themselves to be overweight. Stress can also play a role in body weight; people who have a higher level of stress may develop feelings of depression which could lead to them seeking out comfort foods. Traditional comfort foods tend to be high in calories, fat, and cholesterol all of which can lead to weigh gain. People with a lower level of stress tend to have more time in their day to dedicate to exercise and healthy eating decisions. People with a high level of stress need to take extra care to avoid high calorie comfort foods; instead they should eat healthy foods that can improve their mood like spinach, yogurt, and peanuts.


Clark, N. (2014, October 27). Why Some People Eat Lots— But Don’t Get Fat. Retrieved October 9, 2015, from

Fraser, K. (2009, January 22). Why do some people never seem to get fat? Retrieved October 9, 2015, from

Hales, D. (2013). Invitation to Health: Live It Now (16th ed.). Cengage Learning.

Herbert, C. (2013, April 1). Bad-Mood Foods. Retrieved October 9, 2015, from

Ideal Body Weight. (n.d.). Retrieved October 9, 2015, from

Vegetarian Weight Loss. (2010, October 13). Retrieved October 9, 2015, from


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