In Roman times, a beautiful woman was considered to be well proportioned and rounded in the style of Venus de Milo (plus arms of course!). During the Renaissance, extra-large females were appreciated. Today the tall, skinny, anorexic fashion model is considered to be in vogue. It is possible that those overweight by today’s standards were merely born in the wrong era!
Two centuries ago the average person walked 12 kilometres a day, getting adequate exercise and burning off excess weight. As a result, obesity was a sign of wealth, as the wealthy person did not need to walk long distances for work and had access to a carriage rather than a horse (horse riding also uses energy).
Up to 40% of people in developed countries are overweight, but only 5% are considered to be obese by medical standards. Obesity is medically defined as being more than 20% over the ideal weight for sex, height and age. Men tend to develop “apple” obesity (fat around the middle of the body) while women are “pears” (fat deposits around the buttocks). The “apple” form has a far higher risk of heart complications.
Those whose weight is within 20% of their recommended weight have little to fear health-wise. Those who exceed this limit are more likely to develop strokes, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and liver disease.