A Closer Look At Obesity
There’s a lot of assumption involved in the idea of obesity. Especially in America, it’s a pretty widely accepted idea that overweight means unhealthy. Our culture has conditioned us to think if someone is overweight, that automatically means they’re incredibly unhealthy and need to fix themselves before it’s too late.
This isn’t exactly the case, however. Being overweight can actually save your life in some situations, preventing certain medical conditions from occurring. The truth behind obesity is an interesting one, and it’s certainly not as cut-and-dry as you might think.
The Obesity Paradox
There is, indeed, a paradox attached to obesity that researchers have spent years studying and confirming. Generally, the words unhealthy and obese tend to almost go hand-in-hand.
“When health-care professionals get their first nutrition books, there’s a chapter on obesity,” Glenn Gaesser, director of the Healthy Lifestyles Research Center at Arizona State University, said. “And it generally says that fat people are unhealthy and thin people are healthy.”
Cardiologist Carl Lavie was on of the first to acknowledge the apparent paradox, and dozens of studies confirmed it — being overweight can protect patients from diseases like pneumonia, cancer, a stroke and hypertension.
“People thought, ‘This can’t be true. There’s got to be something wrong with their data,’” Lavie said. It was true, though. There was significant evidence to back it up.
“It’s been shown consistently enough in different disease states,” Gregg Fonarow, cardiology researcher at the University of California, added.
BMI And Living Longer
A years-long study conducted in Denmark showed that overweight people are actually living longer than those who are at a so-called “normal” weight. In fact, the body mass index that correlates to the lowest risk of death is actually considered to be in the overweight category. This is contrary to studies done over the years that have linked lower BMI’s to longer life.
The fascinating study was conducted among 100,000 people between 1976 and 2013 — with the findings being published in mid-2016. Physician Rexford Ahima called it a “very carefully done study” that examined the BMI’s of its subjects. It was conducted by clinical biochemist Børge Nordestgaard at Copenhagen University Hospital.
The Benefits Of Being Overweight
Interestingly enough, being overweight can have its benefits. Though it does increase risk of certain illnesses, including dementia. A recent study found that being overweight actually protected people from developing the devastating illness.
“Our results should open new avenues for research for protective factors for dementia,” lead researcher Dr. Nawab Qizilbash. “They may be used to provide insight to looking for a mechanism and developing new treatments for dementia. In addition, doctors, public health scientists and policy makers may need to rethink how to identify who is at high risk for dementia.”
It’s also been found that being overweight can lead to a healthier immune system, better sex performance, a reduced risk of rheumatoid arthritis and an ability to recover quicker from being sick.
No matter the benefits of being overweight, it’s important to recognize the distinction between health and obesity. It’s one thing to be heavier and have a higher BMI, but to be unhealthy and overweight is something completely different. Always maintain a healthy lifestyle no matter what size you are.