Is it possible to be obese and healthy?

June 23, 2022

1. Weight and health are not perfectly correlated

While being overweight increases a person's risk of a variety of health problems, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and some cancers, many studies have shown a person's disease risk is linked not to weight, but to body fat and where it's distributed in the body. As I discussed in my article on the Body Mass Index (BMI), a person's weight doesn't always tell the full story of their health. The BMI is not a reliable indicator of health since it does not account for how fat is distributed throughout the body, even though BMI calculators offer a starting point for calculating body fat. It's also crucial to keep in mind that muscle is much denser than fat, which the BMI can't measure. As a result, if a BMI calculator classifies you as overweight or obese but you're physically fit, have a healthy diet and lifestyle, and fat stored around your hips, you may still be at risk for disease. People with high levels of visceral fat, a type of particularly unhealthy fat stored around the stomach, close to the organs, have a higher risk of disease than people who hold body fat around their hips.

2. Weight and fitness are not perfectly related either

We've been conditioned to think that being overweight and unfit are related in some way. Although multiple studies have employed exercise testing to demonstrate that some overweight and obese persons have high levels of cardiovascular fitness and strength, it is inactivity, not our weight, that has a direct impact on our fitness levels. The distinction? These individuals regularly exercised. Regular exercise will increase your fitness regardless of your weight. Unfortunately, more than half of Australians don't even engage in the 30 minutes of exercise required five days a week to maintain their health and survival, much less assist them control their weight.

3. Lifestyle is more important than a number on the scales

While maintaining the relationship between our weight and health is vital, we also need to keep in mind other aspects influence overall health. While it may seem simple, healthy actions, not weight, make us healthy. Get enough exercise, eat a healthy, balanced diet, manage stress, and get better sleep are at the top of the list.

The takeaway

When it comes to your general levels of health, your weight does important. We should all be adopting healthier living practices regardless of our weight. It's just not the only thing that matters, and it's not always necessary to fall into the "healthy weight" bracket.

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