It used to be that BMI was considered the best measure of your weight, and that a BMI outside of the healthy weight range meant poorer health outcomes in terms of lifestyle-related diseases as well as how long you lived for.
One interesting study out of Denmark is telling us that this might not be the case. In fact it seems that a BMI of 27 results in a lower risk of death overall and better overall health, more so than being in any other weight category, including the so-called “healthy weight range”.
So how is it that we can be overweight, but still be healthy?
BMI doesn’t take into account muscle
To calculate BMI you use your weight and compare it to your height. But body weight isn’t necessarily reflective of body fat. Think of bodybuilders- they will have a BMI in the obese category due to their increased weight. So if you are active, and have a higher amount of muscle compared to body fat, chances are you are much healthier than someone who isn’t active but is at a lower overall weight.
We know that food contains important nutrients, antioxidants, anti-inflammatories that have a real effect on our health. So it could be that consuming slightly more food, as long as it is nutrient dense, could counteract the negative effects of carrying around extra body weight.
Put it in perspective
A BMI of 27 isn’t a massive difference from a BMI of 25. For a 165cm woman, a weight of 68kg is in the healthy weight range. A weight of 73kg puts you at a BMI of 27. That’s only a 5kg difference.
Exercise is a big deal
What has been shown in multiple studies is that someone who is regularly physically active will generally have much better health outcomes than someone who isn’t, even if they are in the overweight or obese category. Exercise reduces circulating blood sugars, reduces inflammation, reduces risk of heart disease, and reduces fat around vital organs.
Take home message
Perhaps instead of making our lifelong goal to get to the perfect weight, we should be focusing our attention on being a weight that we feel comfortable with and implementing consistent healthy eating behaviors and taking part in regular exercise.