Can I Be Overweight and Stay Healthy?

Dear Lifehacker, I am a fat man who has struggled my whole life to lose weight. My doctor told me that my BMI is in the “overweight” category. To be honest, I’m happy with my body. I have no health problems and I try to lead a healthy lifestyle as much as possible. Can you be overweight and stay healthy?

Regards, overweight Harold

Dear Harold, Thanks for the note. The first thing we need to ask is what does “being overweight” mean?

You may have heard of Body Mass Index (or BMI), a metric often used to measure “body fat”. It is important to note that this is not always the best indicator, but it is easy to determine, which is why many doctors use it by default. However, as explained by the doctor on the fight against obesity , Dr. Spencer Nadolsky , it has some limitations:

A thin young man with a BMI of 27 is very different from an obese postmenopausal woman with the same BMI. BMI does not account for many things, like muscle mass. If everyone could measure their body fat with DEXA , doctors would simply use it, but this is not always possible.

As Dr. Nadolski said, it is much better to use body fat percentage. For example, my BMI is 28, which is only two points from obesity, but I am not overweight because I have a relatively low percentage of body fat. However, it is difficult to obtain this number, and expensive equipment is often required to obtain high accuracy.

Dr. Nadolski says that instead of body fat percentage, you can use your BMI along with your waist measurements. This method is cheap, effective, and allows you to understand some of the limitations of BMI. You can learn how to use these measurements as well as their limitations here .

When being overweight leads to health problems

We’ve learned about some of the weight-related metrics, but that doesn’t tell us anything about what it means to be overweight. This term, by definition, implies that you need to lose weight, so let’s look at specific cases when this should happen.

The risk of obesity-related illness increases with weight gain. For example, if you already have insulin resistance, type II diabetes, or heart disease, you need to lose weight. If you do not have these conditions, you may be overweight and healthy depending on certain health indicators. According to Dr. Nadolsky:

You can still be healthy and overweight. Although the BMI limit for being overweight is 25 to 30, there are many healthy people in this range. We usually take a close look at metabolic markers of health when they are in this range, as well as the distribution of weight and body composition. Blood pressure, glucose and lipid markers should also be examined to determine the risk profile.

Obviously, only your doctor can tell you if you are at risk for these diseases. However, it is possible that you are not at risk and do not need to lose weight for health reasons. Dr. Yoni Friedhoff, author and owner of Weighty Matters, who also runs one of the largest obesity clinics in Canada, explains:

I’m about two pounds overweight and pretty healthy. Health is not measured in pounds. Undoubtedly, the risk of weight-related diseases increases with weight gain, but being thin does not protect a person from disease, and obesity does not guarantee problems.

Weight does increase your risk of medical problems, so prevention can be a fair case for losing weight. But it’s also worth noting that a healthy lifestyle reduces the risk of most chronic diseases, regardless of weight.

But, according to Dr. Nadolsky, there is one exception: an exceptionally high BMI. He states that even if your current health scores are in order as your BMI exceeds 30, recent research suggests that weight-related diseases (heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and arthritis) may occur in the future:

There are three classes of obesity, each with increasing risk.

  • 30-34: class 1 obesity. This is a bit of a gray area in terms of risks. It is important to look at your waist size as well as your doctor’s lab results.
  • 35-39: class 2 obesity. Risks increase 40+ more:
  • 40+: obesity grade 3. This is the highest class with the highest risks.

If your BMI falls into one of the above categories, you probably need to lose weight. Just because you don’t have health problems today doesn’t mean you won’t have them tomorrow.

Deciding to lose weight

A little caveat. There is a tendency to use articles like this to justify complacency about weight and health, even if you really need to lose weight. If this applies to you, do not select those parts of this article that allow you to justify reasons why you should not.

If you are completely healthy, then the only reason to think that you are overweight is if you want to lose weight for personal reasons. In this case, you can lose weight by changing your diet and starting an exercise regimen . If you do not have any health risks or diseases, your choice is “overweight” or not, and no one can tell you about it – they do not know what your lipid profile or attitude to your health. like the body.

In addition, there is no reason for a healthy person without a high-risk BMI to lose weight. A healthy lifestyle is much more important, according to Dr. Friedhoff:

If he leads a healthy life and the weight of this person does not affect his quality of life, there is no need to lose weight urgently. If a person regularly plays sports, eats right, sleeps well at night, does not smoke, does not abuse alcohol, and maintains friendships, he is likely to feel pretty darn good in life in general.

So, Harold, Fortunately, the extra weight, I leave you with this: Your original question is wrong. You are not only healthy, but also satisfied with your body, which means that you do not have excess weight at all.

Regards, Lifehacker


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