Fat-acceptance is a word that has slipped into popular culture somewhere over the last few years. In what must be a slap in the face to cardiologists worldwide, fat clubs and fat forums are slowly squeezing their way into the mainstream as overweight people struggle to combat the message that thin is in. Some activists promote the message ‘healthy at any size’ and believe that being healthy is unrelated to weight. From radio presenters to school teachers, many overweight men and women are pushing the message that their weight isn’t stopping them from being happy, proud, and healthy.

Confidence is something all women aspire to, and there’s no doubt we’re under too much pressure (a lot of it, self-imposed) to look like a Victoria’s Secret model. However, whilst the message of ‘not good enough’ is clearly a concern in today’s society, the opposite message that being overweight is OK carries dangerous consequences.

Chrissie Swan of The Age posted a column a few weeks ago declaring her pride in being overweight, happy, and healthy. Whilst Swan’s message to love yourself is certainly a good one, being complacent regarding your size isn’t. Swan may have assured the reader she isn’t ‘pre-diabetic or pre-anything’ and was proud to declare her blood-pressure ‘normal to low’, but that doesn’t mean she won’t suffer from weight-related problems in the future.

Countless studies have proven time and time again that being overweight increases the risk of a number of diseases such as cancer, arthritis, dementia, stroke and coronary artery disease. The latter two are the biggest killers in Australia and both can appear suddenly and unexpectedly.

Because diseases can linger long before they show themselves, it is impossible to be one hundred percent certain of health; all we can do is lower our risk-factors and follow a healthy lifestyle. For overweight people, that means taking a proactive approach to health now, not when the first heart attack comes knocking. After all, no one would accept a smoker’s protest that cigarettes aren’t doing them damage as they’re currently lung-cancer free.

As a radiographer, I constantly see the effects of being overweight. Every single day I meet people with first-time heart attacks, a brand new cancer diagnosis, and those unable to move themselves because their joints have finally given out. Just months ago those people could have been the ones claiming they’re perfectly healthy, despite a lacklustre diet.

We should all love our bodies a little bit more. Eating better food and exercising regularly will only encourage that love to grow.