What if "overweight" really was the healthiest weight?

What if "overweight" really was the healthiest weight?

Every day we are more obsessed with avoiding being overweight and, therefore, obesity.

And is not for less. Studies have bombarded us with a thousand and one serious consequences of obesity by the mere fact of existing, and our own eyes see every day how the obese population continues to grow and, with it, all those consequences. But what about being overweight? Is it so bad to spend a kilo of our ideal weight according to the BMI?

Well, maybe not. In fact, it is possible to get to affirm that being overweight is healthier that the supposed ideal weight that marks our BMI, and of course is healthier than obesity. At least, as follows from a recent study of almost 40 years in duration and up to 100,000 participants published in the JAMA magazine.

Being overweight is healthier than being underweight

Despite the fact that today endocrinologists (doctors who specialize in human hormones, including diseases such as diabetes or obesity) continue to favor the use of Body Mass Index or BMIIn recent years, nutritionists have put themselves on the warpath against this formula that is based on our weight and height, without taking into account that said weight can come from muscle or fat without being differentiated by the formula.

Now, various studies are concluding that this BMI is becoming less useful. This does not mean that we should throw overboard the healthy diet, the gym or the sport, no. What does the study led by Borge Nordestgaard mean? Copenhagen University Hospital and his colleagues is that we must rethink the use of BMI and the term over weight.

For the study, Nordestgaard and colleagues analyzed the body mass index of 100,000 individuals from 1976 to 2013, nearly four decades of research by three groups of recruited people about 15 years apart.

We know that in BMI a healthy weight is a BMI from 18.5 to 24.9; overweight ranges from 25 to 29.9 and obesity is a BMI greater than 30. Paradoxically, regarding total mortality, individuals with a overweight cataloged BMI live longer (had a lower risk of death) than those of normal weight, even taking into account other factors such as age, sex, family history, socioeconomic status, or smoking.

The complex weight classification under examination

In other words, we may need to rethink what healthy weight really means. In theory, a normal weight (BMI 18.5 24.9) should be that ideal weight where you suffer less illness and live longer and better. However, during these last 40 years of study it has been found that normal weight does not equal lower mortality. In fact, being overweight is healthier in terms of mortality risk.

This is not the first study to reach this conclusion, but it is the longest and with the most data to analyze. Already in the past year 2013 another study published in JAMA It consisted of a large meta-analysis of over 100 different studies and came to a similar conclusion: Being overweight is healthier and has a lower risk of mortality than the rest of BMI.

For its part, another study published in the International Journal of Obesity In March 2016, he already criticized the use of BMI as a method to classify the level of cardiac or metabolic health.

Study limitations: Being overweight is healthier, with some exceptions

On the other hand, it should be added that in the study the researchers also detected that some health risks related to excess weight, such as cholesterol or blood pressure, they are a lot better treated now than 40 years ago, which would mean that it is possible to be overweight and be healthier thanks to such treatment.

On the other hand, there are other limitations, such as the fact that the 100,000 individuals analyzed come from Copenhagen (Denmark), all of them white, something that could alter results if we measured the same parameters in other areas of the planet. A clear example are Asian people, who develop type 1 and 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease despite having a low BMI.

Still, after various studies stating the same thing, one thing is clear: Mortality risk should be calculated using much more complex data than an individual’s weight and height.

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