This week, with the New Year in full swing, attention focused on that familiar January preoccupation: losing weight. Shedding excess pounds can certainly be healthy. Tiny, the obese New Brunswick cat who made headlines for weighing in at over 30 pounds last year, is a good example. After being put on a moderate diet and getting at least 15 minutes of exercise a day, Tiny lost almost half his body weight, cutting his risks for high blood pressure and Type 2 Diabetes. The trouble is, in our zeal for fighting obesity, we sometimes end up taking a punitive stand that does more to marginalize and harm people who are overweight than it does to actually help them get healthier. On the blog this week, Dr. Yoni Freedhoff highlighted these concerns when he pointed to studies showing that the popular TV show The Biggest Loser increases hateful weight bias and sets its participants up for long-term failure by decimating their metabolisms through its punishing diet and exercise regimen. How about taking our cues from Tiny, instead, and keeping the weight loss theme focused on small consistent steps that lead to big results? And how about remembering that we loved Tiny every bit as much when he was a fat cat as we do now? We just wanted to spare him extra trips to the vet.
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