Is Weight really a reliable indicator of health?

Some recent medical research is showing that weight may not be such an important indicator of health as has been previously thought. Last week a report in The Archives of Internal Medicine compared weight and cardiovascular risk factors among a representative sample of more than 5,400 adults. Half of the overweight people and one-third of obese people in the study were “metabolically healthy.” That means that many overweight and obese adults may have healthy levels of “good” cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood glucose.

At the same time, about one out of four slim people in the study actually had at least two cardiovascular risk factors typically associated with obesity.

Being overweight or obese is definitely linked with numerous health problems. Nonetheless, researchers found the proportion of overweight and obese people who are metabolically healthy surprising.

Several studies have shown that fitness, as determined by how a person performs on a treadmill, is a far better indicator of health than body mass index. Some research has indicated that people who are fat but can still keep up on treadmill tests have much lower heart risk than people who are slim and unfit.

Sources:
New York Times August 18, 2008

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