Can You Be Overweight and Healthy?

The Archives of Internal Medicine recently published a study that brings hope to the millions of clinically overweight people in the world. The message? “You can be overweight and still be healthy.”

Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? Well, it is.

Just like the tale of Uncle Joe, who smoked four packs of cigarettes a day and died at age 105, studies like these leave logic on the back porch. For starters, the researchers judged “healthy” by looking at blood pressure and blood lipids (cholesterol and triglycerides), as well as blood sugar. And, according to them, a healthy person is anyone with a blood pressure below 140/90 and blood sugar under 100.

However, we know that blood pressure over 120/80 increases the future risk of stroke and heart disease. Also, some doctors consider a fasting blood sugar over 80 to be a risk for Type II diabetes.

Some experts viewed this study as yet another reason to use waist size – not BMI (body mass index) or body weight – to determine a person’s health risks. Waist-to-height ratio, in particular, is a handy measurement, according to Dr. Selma Brown. She and others believe that your waist should be no more than half your height in inches. In other words, if you are 72 inches tall, your waist should be no more than 36 inches.

But none of this should mean anything to you. “Health” is more than a series of numbers on a laboratory sheet. This study did not reflect legitimate lifestyle concerns related to health, such as energy levels, vibrancy, and self-image. Bottom line, being overweight is a health risk.

In the long run, true health is reflected on the outside of the body as well as the inside. You do not need the body of Michael Phelps to be healthy. But being overweight won’t give you anything but trouble.

[Ed. Note: You don’t HAVE to be overweight. And getting fit doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. You can build muscle AND burn body fat with nutrition and fitness counselor Jon Benson’s newest book, 7 Minute Muscle.]