Top news stories today discuss the results of a report, published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, finding evidence that overweight to slightly obese individuals have a lower mortality risk than normal weight individuals.
Opinions run high on the outcome of this research. Katherine M. Flegal, Ph.D. was the lead on the study, comparing the mortality rates of each BMI classification. Her outcomes are astonishing to many, especially in an age when managing a healthy weight has become a government issue and perceptions of ideal are aligned with the waif-like physiques of models and celebrities.
Although this large study offers evidence that a few extra pounds will not force you into an early grave, it is not suggesting that packing on the pounds is the key to a longer life. So, before you throw out your workout gear and swap your fruits and vegetables for cookies and soda, take a look at why obesity is not the key to a longer, healthier life.
Here’s what the headlines aren’t telling you:
- BMI. If you haven’t heard it before, hear it now – BMI is not an accurate indicator of health. It’s a height to weight ratio. If you have more muscle than fat, you could be classified as overweight or obese and be in perfect health and vice-versa.
- Age matters. Being overweight or even slightly obese at a young age is far riskier to your health than at a much older age. The effects on the health of the young are much more severe because obesity drastically increases the predisposition for a number of chronic diseases throughout the lifespan. While obesity does negatively impact the health of older persons, a little extra weight can also be key to protecting the elderly from physical injury.
- See your doctor. The study’s authors speculate that the results may be linked to the fact that overweight and obese individuals spend more time with their doctor and getting treatment, making their risk of death lower and the likelihood of catching disease early, greater. See your doctor on a routine basis. Other studies have shown that seeing your doctor on a routine basis decrease mortality for the general population.
The study’s conclusions state:
Underweight and obesity, particularly higher levels of obesity, were associated with increased mortality relative to the normal weight category. The impact of obesity on mortality may have decreased over time, perhaps because of improvements in public health and medical care.