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Overweight: Is being overweight unhealthy or not?

Published: April 21, 2017

The number on the scale may not identify your health status
The number on the scale may not identify your health status

A few yers ago news media reported on a new study which suggests that being "moderately" overweight may increase longevity. Great news it would seem for 2/3 of the population who are overweight or obese. 

At around the same time the findings of another study suggested that obese cardiac patients have better health outcomes than normal weight cardiac patients: that is, the heavier patients were less likely to die prematurely.
The second study was reported in such a way that a tentative explanation for the findings was provided: it is possible that obese cardiac patients are treated more aggressively because being overweight or obese increases your risk for premature death for a number of reasons.
In addition, it is possible that assumptions about lifestyles of normal weight patients are made which are incorrect.
Normal weight people are not necessarily more physically active, or more likely to follow a healthy eating plan than overweight or obese people.
These are two lifestyle factors which significantly influence heart diseaseExercise in particular, reduces risk regardless of weight loss.
The first study has met with considerable criticism from experts in the field of nutrition and health. In particular, inclusion or exclusion of different population groups, such as current or former smokers, and the sick in the analysis.
However, these critiques are seldom given the same media attention as the studies which created the news headlines leaving the general public in the dubious position of only being partially informed.
Take a cautionary approach to research headlines
Take a cautionary approach to research headlines
Doubtless many people will be confused as to which "healthy weight" messages they should consider, and if you're struggling to lose weight you may well breathe a sigh of relief and put you weight loss plan on hold.
Of course, the authors of the first study could argue that the increased longevity is only associated with being "moderately" overweight, but what does moderately overweight mean?...link to the full article to learn more.

References

1.
CSPI (2013, March) Nutrition Action Health Letter
2.
BBC News (April, 2013). Obese heart patients do better.
3.
Whitney, E. & Rady Rolfes, S. (2005). Understanding Nutrition. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth
4.
Lupton, D. (1996). Food, the body and the self. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Inc.