Healthy Weight - What Is It?

  • 1 Minute Read

Think you know what the "right" weight is? You might be surprised what healthy is and is not.

Healthy Weight - What Is It?

If you're reading this and a member of MyNetDiary, it is highly likely you have set a goal for your own "healthy weight." Perhaps that target weight is set by a doctor, or maybe it's that weight you were in college that you felt your best at, or maybe it's derived from your BMI. But a "healthy weight" may be a bit more fluid than one thinks based on some mega-analysis of studies on the topic.

This meta-analysis compiled 51 studies on BMI to find that "right" number, but what researchers found is that being underweight could be more dangerous than being overweight. In fact, those with a BMI of 18.5 or below were 1.8 times more likely to die than those in the normal range. Moreover, those who were obese, BMI of 30-34.9, were 1.2 times as likely to die, and those severely obese, BMI of 35 or higher, were 1.3 times as likely to die as those in the normal range.

According to this, it might be wise to consider what our real target weight should be. (FYI: if anyone has received attention for being underweight recently, it is the saga around Biggest Loser winner, Rachel Frederickson, who lost 59.62% of her body weight, but subsequently gained back 20 pounds after being criticized for it).

What are the top contributing factors of being underweight? Cited in the study are malnourishment, heavy use of alcohol or drugs, smoking, low-income status, poor mental health, and poor self-care. The researchers do state clearly that their analysis should just raise questions but it cannot yet be determined if a low BMI is directly associated with increased mortality.

But what should we look at, if not BMI? These researchers say that a "robust and healthy person has a reasonable amount of body fat, as well as sufficient bone and muscle." Where "excess" body fat can be an indicator of poor health is waist circumference.

BMI looks at fat and muscle, so it may not be the best test-case for excess fat, but a high BMI is a good indicator of needing other tests, like blood pressure, blood lipids, and other risk factors.

The real goal is not to be obese or be underweight. One should be a normal BMI, have a normal waist circumference, and have a balance of healthy eating and exercise. Nothing should be too extreme. Of course, it's always recommended to talk to your doctor about your specific body weight goals.

Weight Loss->Goals & Monitoring
Apr 10, 2014
Ryan Newhouse - health writer, MyNetDiary

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