Can you be plus-size and healthy?

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The August issue of Women’s Running is receiving praise for a move many people consider long overdue.

The magazine featured plus-size model Erica Schenk on its cover.

“It’s not all about the super young, skinny, fast folks,” John Dewey, owner of Fleet Feet in Greensboro and High Point said.

Dewey says the magazine’s cover represents many of the people who run marathons and 5K races.

"I feel like this type of runner is what we’re seeing more and more of,” he said.

The store owner, who is also a triathlon and marathon runner, says he has seen first-hand how perceptions about what a runner should look like have intimidated potential customers.

“There are people that come to our store and they sit in the car and are really stressed out to even come through our front door because we’re considered a running store,” Dewey said.

Fleet Feet started the “No Boundaries” training program as a way to welcome anyone who may be interested in the sport.

The program is especially for people who are inactive to those who are beginning 5K runners.

Overall, the magazine cover is receiving positive attention, but the medical community has some concerns.

“I think it’s great to promote that women can look very different and still be healthy, but I think it also can be a little deceptive,” Dr. James Dasher, director of bariatric surgery at Novant Health, said.

Dasher says it’s important to consider Body Mass Index (BMI) guidelines.

“A BMI of 40 or above is called morbid obesity. There is no way for you to be a healthy woman if your BMI is 40 or above. It's just impossible,” he said.

Similar concerns apply to the 30 to 35 range, but Dasher says there could be an exception for certain athletes.

“25 to 30 gets into that gray zone. There are a lot of people in very good shape who have a BMI of 27. Muscle weighs a lot more than fat,” Dasher said.

For example, athletes who lift weights could have a higher BMI, but still be considered healthy.

Dasher suggests that less emphasis should be placed on the general term “plus-size,” and people should concentrate more on the medical numbers that facts can support.