Dr. William Lassek Talks Women and Fat


Why do women struggle so much with weight? Can women ever lose weight and keep it off?

In his new book “Why Women Need Fat,” authors Dr. Will Lassek and Dr. Steven Gaulin explain how women’s weight is controlled by evolution and how a change in diet three decades ago may be the reason women today are bigger than their grandmothers were. By examining how a women’s weight fluctuates over her lifetime, Why Women Need Fat slams the door on our cultural ideal of thinness and explains why it’s biologically impossible for every woman to be thin. The authors argue that our bodies want—and in fact, need—certain fats for long-term health, and destroy cultural myths like “all fat is bad for you.”

About the doctor

A former Assistant Surgeon General, Dr. Lassek is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh and Research Assistant in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

How do I get rid of grandma arms? I spend four days a week in the gym and the arm fat is still out of control!

Unfortunately, this is the result of natural aging and is difficult to change. The arms are one of the places where womens’ bodies store extra fat.

What percentage of fat is considered good to have?

A value up to 40% is OK.

My husband has had several strokes, both major and minor. After the last mini stroke, he got let out of the hospital fast and can hardly walk. What should I do?

Physical therapy would be very valuable.

I am 49 and still have a monthly cycle. Why?

This is quite normal. American women may continue to have periods up until age 55.

I’ve had nine surgeries to remove adhesions but they come back worse. What can I do to relieve the pain and avoid more surgeries?

Exercise may be beneficial; also omega-3 supplements like fish oil.

What do you think about the perfect food called LIMU?

Seaweed is a very good source of valuable omega-3. The Japanese, who are rarely obese and very healthy, eat lots of seaweed.

I am a big guy and want to know how I can burn fat effectively. Eating certain foods or doing certain exercises?

All exercise is valuable, but weight training seems to be especially beneficial. A diet high in omega-3 and low in omega-6 fats is also beneficial.

If you keep having pain in your knees and hands go numb, what can be done besides surgery? I have already had surgery twice on one hand and once on the other.

If the nerve is being pinched, surgery may be necessary. Avoiding using your hands in the same way repeatedly is also desirable.

What could be a reason for recurring ringworm in adults?

It is a fungal infection and can be treated. If it recurs, there may be someone else in the family who also has it.

I’m a Black woman who was not born with a lot of fat. I’m thin so what do I do?

Some of us are born to be thin and cannot easily gain weight. Many women would envy you.

My heart races but mainly at night when I sleep or during the day if I am stressed. I am only 31, female, and have gone from plus size 16/18 to womens size 14. My goal is size 6/7. I am 5’7 and 1/4. When I checked my blood pressure at the pharmacy it said “pre-hypertension” but at the dentist it was normal. I think maybe it is anxiety, but could this be a symptom of high blood pressure or diabetes?

This would not be a common symptom of diabetes or high blood pressure. It would be helpful if you could count the number of beats per minute. If it is less than 80 it is normal. If it is more than 100, you may need to see a doctor. You may also be dieting too fast.

I’ve had a numb feeling in my right thumb for about the last hour now. I don’t want to be one of those people that goes to the doctor for every little thing, but should I be heading to the doctor now to get this checked out?

If it looks pale compared with your other fingers, you might try putting it in warm water for a while. If you have any weakness or numbness in other places on your right side, you should get checked out soon.

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