One of the things that I often see stated as irrefutably “caused” by obesity is joint problems. This sometimes goes with the oft-repeated claim that the human body “wasn’t meant to carry [insert completely arbitrary number of] pounds”. It also goes hand in hand with the VFHT (Vague Future Health Threat) in this case taking advantage of the fact that bodies break down over time to say that if my joints do that, it will be because of my fat and not for the reason that thin people’s joints break down.
There have been a few times in my life, at various weights, when I’ve had knee pain. When I was thinner doctors looked at things like muscle imbalances and tightness, gait, and sure enough that was the (solvable) problem.
When I had knee problems a few years ago the only explanation offered to me by doctors was that I needed to lose weight. Because I had the luxury of knowing how they treat these issues with smaller people, I asked the doctor if people who weren’t fat had knee problems. After some pushing he admitted that they do. So I said that I wanted to be treated like they treat thin people. I was told that there was no point in treating any muscle issues until I lost weight. What with the who now? So I left the doctor’s office and I started working with a massage therapist and when we cleared up the tightness in my quads the knee pain disappeared. Losing weight would have done NOTHING to help the actual issue – I would have had knee pain in a smaller body. Later I started working with Kate Wodash at The Mindful Body Center in Austin and I learned to correct my movement patterns to avoid the muscle issues that caused the knee pain. Yesterday I did 75 full squat jumps (where you do a full squat, hand flat on the floor and jump up explosively, then repeat). Knees feel great. Still 5’4, almost 300 pounds. Still have more fat and also more lean body mass than most people.
In general I think that a diagnosis of “fat” is just lazy medicine. Anytime someone tells you that weight loss is the “solution” to your problem, I would suggest that you ask if thin people have the problem that you do. If they do, then ask how they are treated. Every weight loss method ever tested scientifically has a success rate of 5% or less, so prescribing weight loss as if it’s a solution that works isn’t just lazy, it’s also medically unethical without a disclaimer explaining that it’s unsuccessful 95% of the time and also that they have no idea whether or not it will solve the issue, because they have no idea if it caused the issue. So if you are dealing with joint pain, and even if you are choosing to attempt weight loss as a solution, I highly suggest looking into other options that might make you feel better on the way. It may be that you need to strengthen the supporting muscles, or that your movement patterns have lead to imbalance and so you need to stretch the supporting muscles. Maybe a bit of both. Regardless, when joint pain is the problem, weight loss is not the only solution.
Related to this is a video that I’ve been meaning to share here for a while. Revtristy does Olympic Style Weight Lifting and put together a video called “Strong Fat Lady” that is amazing: