By Dr. Cory Couillard
Does being overweight automatically mean you’re unhealthy? How about if you’re skinny – does that mean you’re healthy?
A recent study published Sept. 5, 2012 in the European Heart Journal showed that people can be overweight yet still healthy and fit.
The groundbreaking study of more than 43,000 people showed that there are more indicators than just body weight when it comes to the risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. In the study, more than 18,500 were assessed as metabolically fit, which directly correlated to overall good health and lack of disease.
The key is being metabolically fit. This means you can implement a diet and exercise regimen that lowers blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar while balancing hormones and controlling inflammation—regardless of your weight.
I’m skinny, so I’m healthy
There is a stigma that overweight people are always sick and skinny people are generally healthy. The research highlights that your weight and body type do not always matter. Choosing a healthy lifestyle and implementing proactive, preventative techniques like diet and exercise work for people of all waist sizes.
An important question is: If I like the way I look, then I’m healthy, right? If you don’t actively exercise or eat a healthy diet, you’re still prone to develop high blood pressure, inflammation and diseases connected to a poor lifestyle. Healthy lifestyles should be applied by everyone because they benefit everyone. No one loses as a result of smart choices.
Who’s at greatest risk?
Obesity is infamous for causing diabetes and heart disease, but the findings of the study help identify overweight individuals who are at highest risk due to large amounts of midsection fat and lack of physical activity.
Researchers have found waist size to be more useful than BMI in predicting risk factors. BMI is a ratio of an individual’s height to weight. This system has been under question as it fails to distinguish muscle from body fat and most importantly where the fat is located in the body. Waist circumference measures the amount of belly fat, and helps assess how fat is distributed throughout the body.
As many as one in six deaths can be linked to physical inactivity, according to a recent 2012 study published in The Lancet. Dr. I-Min Lee, the lead researcher from Harvard Medical School said, “Only about one quarter of the world’s population smokes, but about two-thirds are inactive.”
What should I do?
What you eat—and don’t eat—has a powerful effect on your health. Without knowing it, you may be eating many foods that disrupt hormones, add belly fat and increase blood pressure while neglecting the powerful nutrients that can protect you.
Cut back on sugars and other unhealthy carbohydrates. Processed sugars are the leading cause of weight gain, especially around the midsection of the body. Many processed sugars are in foods that also contain preservatives and artificial colorings that can add to the toxic load of the body. The build-up of toxins causes disease.
Eat more vegetables. They have significant amounts of vitamins and antioxidants that fend off disease naturally. Vegetables also have significantly less sugar than fruit. Eating too much fruit has the ability to cause uncontrolled blood sugar and insulin imbalances. Insulin is responsible for storing excess sugar as fat.
Engaging in an exercise program can keep you healthy even if you carry some extra weight. Don't get caught up with the numbers on the scale as long as you’re exercising and eating right. If you change your diet and behaviors, you can minimize your risks of many of the most common deadly diseases.
This column is directed by your questions, comments and inquiries. The health advice provided is in collaboration with the World Health Organization's goals of prevention, maintenance and natural treatment of disease. The advice is for educational purposes and does not necessarily reflect endorsement.
Dr. Cory Couillard is an international healthcare speaker and columnist He works in collaboration with the World Health Organization's and International Diabetes Federation's goals of disease prevention and global education. His views do not necessarily reflect endorsement.