Can you be overweight and healthy?

Health experts weigh in on whether you can be overweight and still be healthy.

Can you be overweight and healthy?

Can you be overweight and healthy? While health experts aren’t quite sure about the answer to this question, most agree that being overweight is not good for you.

“The latest science is quite clear that excess weight can carry considerable health risks, including a higher risk for heart attack and stroke,” says Dr Jorge Plutzky, director of preventive cardiology at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

“While there is no one-size-fits-all number when it comes to a person’s ideal weight, men should not ignore significant weight gain and the implications it has for their future health.”

A study conducted by Michigan State University researchers suggested that heavier people may outlive lighter people.

However, the majority of research shows that overweight people are more likely to get heart disease, cancer or die before those of ideal or close to ideal weight. There is a consistent correlation between weight gain and health problems.

Take for instance a study published online by the European Heart Journal, which analysed around 300,000 people of various weights, who did not have any sign of heart disease at the commencement of the study.

After four years, the researchers checked in with these people and that found those with a higher Body Mass Index (BMI) had a higher risk of heart attacks, strokes and high blood pressure. They found that the fatter the person, the more likely they were to fall prey to these health conditions.

In fact, men who added 12cm to their waistline raised their heart disease risk by 16 per cent.

Another study published on JAMA Cardiology found that overweight middle-aged men shortened their lives by almost six years compared to men of a normal weight.

Being overweight makes you more susceptible to sleep apnoea, joint pain and arthritis, and can increase your resistance to insulin, which can lead to diabetes – all life-shortening conditions.

“But if you take off the weight, often many of these issues are reversible, even with just a modest amount of weight loss,” says Dr Plutzky.

The type of weight you carry has a bearing on your health. Subcutaneous fat – extra fat that accumulates just under the skin causes few health issues, says Dr Plutzky.

Visceral fat which is stored at waist level in the abdominal cavity, surrounds vital organs and is more dangerous. The more visceral fat you carry the higher your risk of heart disease, increased blood pressure, blood sugar and total cholesterol levels.

“Some people can accumulate visceral fat in a way that is much less visible,” says Dr Plutzky.

Anyone whose waist measures 100cm or more is in danger. Anyone who is 1-3kg overweight (according to BMI) is okay – for the time being.

“Before you know it, five pounds (2.2kg) can easily turn into 10 pounds (4.5kg) and then 15 pounds (6.8kg), and then your weight becomes a more serious issue.”

However, everyone who carries some extra weight may not necessarily be at risk.

“A person’s overall cardiovascular disease risk is made up of a combination of factors besides weight, including family history, prior or current smoking and high blood pressure,” says Dr Plutzky. “Also, some people just weigh more than others because they have more muscle and bone mass.”

In short, a couple of extra kilos may not be doing you too much harm, but you should do all you can to get back to a healthy weight – or die sooner.

Do you worry about your weight? Are you healthy, even though you may be carrying a few extra kilos?



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    Karl Marx
    6th Jun 2019
    A few kilos over is probably ok however obesity isn't. As long as you do some daily exercise like walking then you'll lose a little weight, be fitter & healthier.
    Everyone is different & some people I know just like being a fat bastard & lay on the couch all day.
    6th Jun 2019
    SFR, there are many overweight fit people. Some have confessed to me at the gym they love their food too much.

    Eating in moderation and exercise does keep weight down.

    Being slightly overweight around the stomach regions is very bad for you. That is where visceral fat is stored. Visceral fat is the dangerous fat.
    6th Jun 2019
    it is a well known fact that seniors do drink a bit and it is not good for them; especially when mixed with medications.
    6th Jun 2019
    ardnher, I agree. Some people do not like change in anyway.
    6th Jun 2019
    The problem is people are focussed on body weight when they should be focussed on body fat. There is such a thing as 'skinny-fat' where the person is of normal weight BUT has low muscle mass and therefore a high body fat ratio. When most of that fat is hidden in the abdominal cavity - the visceral fat - that is when the real problems start.

    As always exercise is important as is diet and portion control. No news there either.

    6th Jun 2019
    Obesity also carries increased risk of arthritis due to greater pressure, hence wear-and-tear, on joints. Fat people can look forward to hip- and knee-replacements.

    6th Jun 2019
    it is a no brainer..ofcourse being obese is not good for you..I am over what I should be and I know I have a couple of problems which will be elevated if I lose weight...trying to do so.
    6th Jun 2019
    Can you be overweight and healthy? Of course you can. It’s wrong to assume that having a good BMI means that you are automatically fit and healthy.
    I am around 7 kg overweight but I play squash twice a week and cycle over 100 km each week. I also do multi-day treks carrying 25-27 kg. My kids couldn’t do what I do. I know some people that are not overweight that struggle to walk 5 km.

    Tags: health, weight, food,

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