There is a new study out that is generating much discussion that on the surface seems to indicate that overweight or obese people with “minor health problems” can living as long as people that are of normal weight. The study which followed some 14,000 obese people for 16 to 20 years to compare the mortality rates with those of normal weight. At the same time, they were shown to be at an 80 percent higher risk for developing the typical health conditions that are linked to obesity, including high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, sleep apnea, and psychological problems.
The study has provoked some controversy as it may be sending the wrong message to people and reinforce complacency about weight.
The new study was subject of a segment on the Today Show on Mon. Aug. 22, 2011 (video below) with Tanya Benenson, M.D. chief medical officer at NBC Universal and Madelyne Fernstrom, diet and nutrition editor at Today Show. Dr. Benenson noted that the study can be interpreted as meaning that people who practice a healthy lifestyle are healthier than people who don’t. But you can’t have any real medical problems, beyond borderline hypertension as opposed to full-blown high blood pressure and diabetes.
Fernstrom noted that the BMI is one indicator, but other factors must be taken into consideration including family history, and how the fat is distributed on a person’s body. Belly fat or visceral fat, also known as intra-organ fat is more dangerous and can lead to a person developing degenerative disease including diabetes and fatty liver disease.
[In fact, in a completely separate study, indicates that the more fat a person has around the heart, the higher the risk of cardiovascular disease.]
She urges that people not become complacent and think that there are not health risks with obesity such as the aforementioned diabetes as well as hypertension, heart disease and others.
She also noted that appearing thin and yet having too much body fat, “skinny fat” in other words, may not be healthy. In contrast, the overweight person who exercise every day and watches the diet is going to be healthier than the “skinny fat” person who eats whatever he or she wants to and can get away without gaining weight is going to be less healthy.
Also yo-yo dieting was discussed, as the study underscores the stress it puts on the body as well as the mind and emotions. Successful weight loss followed by regaining, can be stressful and make one feel like a failure. Heart problems and gall bladder problems can occur from yo-yo dieting.
The takeaway? No matter what our current weight is, we need to put the focus on health and the daily practices that will foster health i.e. the minimum of 30 minutes a day of exercise, as well as consuming the healthy foods for weight loss, as needed, and weight management.
See an additional report on the new study in the video below.
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