Like many, I gained a little extra weight over the holidays—and I have been agonizing over it lately. I even agonize over whether or not I should agonize over it. After all, what's a few pounds? Does weight really reflect health?
Researchers have been grappling with correlations between weight and health for, well, as long as I can remember. The not-so-suprising prevailing wisdom has been that the more excess weight you carry, the less healthy you are. But in more recent years, scientists questioned this idea, suggesting that being overweight didn't mean you were unhealthier than thinner counterparts, as long as your cholesterol and blood pressure levels remained healthy. Leading an active lifestyle was the key—no matter your waist circumference.
The most recent research suggests otherwise. Excess weight, even if you're as fit as an NFL running back, increases your risk for heart disease by as much as 95 percent. Gretchen Reynolds on the NYTimes Well Blog reports:
... being overweight with no evidence of metabolic syndrome left you at significantly higher risk for heart disease than if, with the same metabolic readings, you were not overweight. Men who were overweight (not obese) with healthy blood pressures, cholesterol readings, blood glucose levels and so on, still had a 52 percent higher risk of developing heart disease within 30 years than men who were normal weight and had similar metabolic profiles. That risk rose to 95 percent among obese men who didn’t suffer from metabolic syndrome.
Well, now I can stop agonizing: Time to eat better and get back to a regular workout routine! (First, I'm going to review How to Lose Weight for Good, which outlines how to overcome the most insidious weight loss hurdles.)
Cheers to all of you who have committed to losing weight in 2010. It's a big task, but you CAN do it!