The media has put a stress on slim women and toned men - creating an ideal mental image that many people try to live up to.
But there is also a lack of understanding as to how to achieve such physical 'perfection' (or more accurately, perceived perfection) and how it effects the body.
A lot of generic advice about weight loss gets bandied about that takes little to no consideration of the body's internal processes, and that can be dangerous.
The Metabolism What a lot of advice misses out is the role that metabolism can play on the body shape of an individual.
Instead there is a focus on dieting, exercises etc without specific attention being paid to what the body can safely achieve.
So what is the metabolism? Well it is a cover all term used to describe the system by which your body burns calories.
Everybody will burn calories at a slightly different rate, just like finger prints few people will have exactly the same metabolic rate.
This is why some people are able to lose weight easier than others, why some exercises and diets work for one person and not another.
Because your metabolic rate defines how quickly you burn calories it has a huge role to play in your body shape.
Consider the old equation, "calories eaten - calories burnt = weight change", or put another way if you burn more calories than you eat you lose weight.
Because the metabolic rate determines how quickly you burn calories it has a major role to play in weight loss or weight gain.
Basic Needs This system is always burning calories no matter what you do.
Almost every system in the body, everything you do will need energy in some form or another - and that energy for the body comes from calories.
So even when you are resting, sitting at the computer or reading you are turning calories into energy rather than fat.
It is the metabolic rate that decides how many calories get burned.
So your basic needs will be using energy, but as we said not everyone's rate is the same, so what determines the rate and therefore the body shape? Well there are a large number of factors but some of the main ones include muscle mass (the more muscle the more energy used even in resting), weight, recent exercise activity, foods eaten etc.
Starvation mode People who use dieting as a method of losing weight should pay special attention to their metabolism.
Eating too few calories can send the body into what is known as 'starvation mode', where it drops the metabolic rate dramatically due to a lack of calories, choosing instead to store what is eaten as fat ready for emergencies, slowing down the body and leaving it sluggish and lacking energy.
As such the metabolism can determine how well diets work and how well we are able to convert food to energy, without it needing to be stored as fat.
Such a process is the very essence of what controls our body shapes.