Being overweight automatically means you are more unhealthy than your skinnier counterpart.
At least, that is the stigma in today’s society.
But is it true?
A recent health survey study in the US found almost half of overweight adults are “metabolically healthy“. In other words, they’re not at increased risk for type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure or other conditions related to metabolic health.
In fact, 29% of obese adults were found to be healthy, while 30% of those considered a healthy weight were metabolically unhealthy.
Lead researcher Jeffrey Hunger (great name for this field of research) said, “The bigger picture we want to draw from our findings is that the dominant way of thinking about weight—that higher-weight individuals will always be unhealthy— is flawed.”
So it’s reasonable to say that an individual’s weight cannot be used as an accurate marker of health on its own.
The problem actually stems from the traditional medical system’s reliance on BMI measurements, which are convenient yet somewhat inaccurate predictors of health.
At Darwin Dietitians we understand the limitations of BMI, which is why we use state-of-the-art body composition analysis. This test can accurately illustrate the current state of your metabolic health so that we can help address the problem if necessary.
However, being overweight will catch up to you
Before we let this good news make us complacent, there is a major caveat to consider.
Being overweight and healthy doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. The opposite, in fact.
A long 20-year British study of 2,500 adults found that of those who were obese yet healthy in the beginning, more than half developed metabolic problems within just 5 years (1).
One of the authors Joshua Bell said, “A core assumption of healthy obesity has been that it is stable over time, but we can now see that healthy obese adults tend to become unhealthy obese in the long-term, with about half making this transition over 20 years in our study.”
So while obese individuals can be metabolically healthy, research indicates this only lasts for a 5-10 year time frame on average. In other words, being overweight will catch up to you eventually.
That certainly doesn’t meant we should continue to stigmatize others based on their body weight or shape, nor should we feel bad about our own bodies.
But it underlines just how important it is to develop a healthy lifestyle and eating habits, especially as we grow older and more susceptible to metabolic diseases.
At Darwin Dietitians we offer body composition analysis testing, which takes a real “inside” look at your current health. To learn more, simply call us on 08 8927 3700 or enquire online here.