Fitness and fatness both matter. Excess weight from muscle, with a lean waist, is not a risk factor for premature death. Excess body fat distributed in the lower extremities, as often prevails in premenopausal women, is also not a marker of risk. Weight around the middle is, however, and its effect on mortality appears in this large analysis to be much the same as the risk of inactivity.
If instead, we treated obesity more like drowning, we would tell the truth about food. We would not market multicolored marshmallows to children as part of a complete breakfast. We would not willfully mislead about the perilous currents in the modern food supply. We would not look on passively as an entire population of non-swimmers started wading in over their heads.
I remember that red lollipop like I wasn't six-years-old then and 46 now. Before being bestowed that glistening cellophane-wrapped, ruby-red, cherry-sweet consolation prize, I was just a little kid trapped in a world of grown-ups who hated themselves for reasons they were too ill-equipped to identify.
Don't get me wrong, I was thrilled I had lost 100 pounds. But I didn't suddenly know my purpose or feel my life had meaning or view my circumstances with a new lens or think I was now beautiful. Every doubt, worry, or longing I had before I lost weight was still there. I wish I had known that's how things would end up being.