The Obesity Paradox

It is no secret that the majority of health care professionals consider obesity as being not good for a person’s health. The general consensus is that thinner people are healthier than those folk that have a greater amount of fat on their bodies.

In the early 2000’s, however, researchers discovered that patients with some illnesses such as heart disease, stood a greater chance of survival than other patients. The unusual issue with the research was that these patients were in the slightly obese or overweight bracket, not very overweight or obese. The extra fat in their bodies was affording them a level of protection against some diseases than slimmer patients.

The Obesity Paradox

Scientists being scientists, tried to find rational explanations as to why this “Obesity Paradox” was happening, they just didn’t believe it. A Jefferson clinician, a cardiologist, Carl Lavie, went on to write a book “The Obesity Paradox: When Thinner Means Sicker and Heavier Means Healthier”. Scientists were at a loss and deemed that the data was inaccurate and the research was erroneous.

The years since the finding of the paradox has seen many other studies and each of them have come to the same conclusion that being overweight can be a benefit and help patients guard against a growing number of medical issues.

So What Are Some Benefits of Being Slightly Overweight?

The list includes heart diseases, strokes and pneumonia

Heart DiseaseHeart Disease

Being overweight increases the risk of heart disease, but survival of heart attacks was increased after the event.

There was a study done in patients that had experienced heart surgery. They had samples taken of the tissue that was enveloping the blood vessels that had been damaged. These samples were found to contain fat that was somehow distributing chemicals that fights coronary disease. The chemicals in question are anti-oxidant, which helps protect against other damaging chemicals, and anti-inflammatory, which helps to reduce inflammation.

Strokes

StrokesAs with heart disease, Journal of the American Heart Association states that although being overweight or obese will increase the risk of a person having a stroke and dying in the first place, the chances of surviving the stroke increases amongst people that have a greater level of fat in the body.

Pneumonia

PneumoniaAccording to researchers at the University of Alberta, normal weight patients who were hospitalized with pneumonia, had a greater chance of dying than their obese equivalents. It is thought that slightly obese patients could have a better chance of survival because they had more stores of nutrition in their bodies. There may be an imperfectly working inflammatory system that helps these patients to do better.

Other studies have found evidence that being slightly overweight can help with high blood pressure, burns, cancer and dementia.

Don’t Eat to Become Overweight Though

Some Danish researchers have said that because health systems have improved so much over the last few decades, obesity no longer poses the same serious threat to health than hypertension, high cholesterol and other obesity linked conditions once did.

They also went on to stress that people shouldn’t eat in excess or to eat to become overweight, although it is not as harmful as it once was.

The above observations were rebuffed by a University of Glasgow Professor, Naveed Sattar. He claimed that current advice of eating healthily in moderation and the prevention of obesity still remains.

He said, “The current findings do not mean that being overweight is protecting you from death, far from it.”

Conclusion

These are my thoughts and my opinion.

From doing my research on the following, as with most health care professionals, I think for good general health it is best to keep within the normal weight range of BMI 18.5 to 24.9.

However, the obesity paradox throws up peculiarities that needs a lot more research but they could be extremely beneficial for advances in medical science.

Measuring obesity

A person’s body mass index (BMI) is calculated by dividing their weight in kilograms by the square of their height in meters.

  • Underweight: below 18.5
  • Normal: 18.5 to 24.9
  • Overweight: 25 to 29.9
  • Obese: greater than 30

References

https://qz.com/550527/obesity-paradox-scientists-now-think-that-being-overweight-is-sometimes-good-for-your-health/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/11657811/Why-obesity-protects-against-heart-disease-and-heart-attack.html

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170629101703.htm

http://www.rtmagazine.com/2012/11/overweight-patients-hospitalized-with-pneumonia-more-likely-to-survive/

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1469-0691.2012.04003.x/abstract

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-36258515

Can Being Slightly Overweight Be Good for Your Health?

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