Being Overweight May Now Be ‘Less Unhealthy’

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Being overweight may not be as big a problem, in terms of health, as is perceived by most people, suggests a new research study.

A Danish research study says that being overweight may not be as unhealthy as it was 40 years back.

The study found that the ‘moderately’ overweight people now had lower rates of early death, as compared to those people who had normal weight, were underweight or obese.

The research study was published in JAMA.

Lead investigator Prof Borge Nordestgaard said,

“Our results should not be interpreted as suggesting that now people can eat as much as they like, or that so-called normal-weight individuals should eat more to become overweight.

“That said, maybe overweight people need not be quite as worried about their weight as before.”

However, a UK doctor said the study results did not mean that being overweight was healthy or desirable. Also, the health advice regarding preventing obesity should remain the same.

Measure Of Obesity

A person’s body mass index (BMI) is usually calculated by dividing their weight in kilograms by the square of their height in meters.

People with a BMI greater than 30 are considered obese, while those with BMI between 25 and 29.9 are considered overweight.

Overweight People More At Risk in the 1970s

Under the study, the researchers analysed the height, weight and death rates of thousands of people at three different time periods since the 1970s.

The researchers from the University of Copenhagen found that in the mid-1970s, obese people had a 30% higher risk of early death, as compared to those with the normal weight.

However, the risk to people’s survival from being obese was almost negligible in the present times.

The authors said that the high survival rates of obese or overweight people could be attributed to the improvement in the health systems, which are now more equipped to dealing with obesity-linked conditions, such as high cholesterol and blood pressure.

However, Prof Naveed Sattar, from the University of Glasgow, said,

“These data are of interest, but they do not change advice we have been giving on obesity and its treatment and prevention.

“The current findings do not mean that being overweight is protecting you from death, far from it.

“Obesity and overweight categories also signal risks for many diseases – such as type-2 diabetes, liver disease, cancers, sleeping problems, multiple pregnancy complications, to name but a few.

“Although we can manage many of those much better these days, such complications also impair quality of life and self-esteem, as well as increase health costs for societies.”

The Danish researchers said that the global categories that define excess weight need to be updated, as they are nearly two decades old now.