Does Weight Matter?

Some of you may have seen the news items in yesterday’s media – a new study by Flegal et al. from the CDC, published in the Nov 7 Issue of JAMA, finds that overweight individuals (BMI 25 to <30) have significantly reduced mortality from non-cancer and non-CVD deaths and no increase in risk for death from all cancers or CVD (compared to normal weight (BMI 18.5 to <25) individuals). The results are based on an analysis of NHANES I, II & III. I was interviewed on this paper by several media representatives and in general my take on this was:

1) BMI (a measure of weight) is a poor measure of overall health
2) More important than the amount of excess weight (especially for overweight individuals) is where it is located

Obviously, this study will lead to a lively discussion and provide to ammunition to all who claim that the obesity epidemic is being dramatized and overrated.

For us the implications are probably as follows:

1) let’s remember that weight is just a number on the scale
2) healthy eating and active living is possible (and advisable) at any weight
3) skinniness is not a guarantee for longevity

This however, should not distract us from the fact that excess weight (fat) can significantly impact on health and that therefore preventing or treating obesity in individuals where excess weight threatens or affects health is important.

Hope you’ll have time to catch the CFR,