A new study released this week received a lot of coverage because it claimed that people who are moderately heavy up to 30 lbs above normal have a slightly lower risk (6%) of premature death than those at a normal weight.
USA TODAY interviewed two leading public health experts: Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Dr. Walter Willett, chair of the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health to get their insights about this new study and its claims. The full article can be found at this link http://usat.ly/Unubl8 but we pulled out a few highlights from the interviews below.
Q: Do you think being a few pounds to 30 pounds over a normal weight is hazardous to your health?
Frieden: “Yes, I think that increased weight carries a number of health risks, but not all weight is the same. If you work out and build muscle mass, you may increase weight and that’s healthy. The study that came out this week was about death rates, it didn’t cover type 2 diabetes and other health risks, which we know increase with weight.”
Q: Why do you think the research found that those who are overweight are at a slightly lower risk of early death?
Willett: “The most serious problem in the paper is that the normal-weight group included a mix of lean and active people, heavy smokers, patients with cancer (and) other conditions that cause weight loss, and frail elderly people who had lost weight due to rapidly declining health. Because the overweight and obese groups were compared to this mix of healthy and ill persons who have a very high risk of death, this led to the false conclusions that being overweight is beneficial and that grade 1 (moderate) obesity carries no extra risk. The new statistics are completely misleading for anyone interested in knowing about their optimal weight. … The paper is a pile of rubbish.”
Q: What is your advice to people who are 60 or more pounds overweight?
Frieden: “Take one step at a time. You can’t run before you walk. Start by walking. Have reasonable goals of being more physically active and eating a healthier diet. It’s not easy to make changes — that’s why it’s so important that you make changes you can stick with. Most people can’t stick with a regimen they hate.”
It would be nice to wake up one morning and have someone tell you that the extra weight put on during the holidays doesn’t matter but that doesn’t seem to be the case. But the good news is the Get Healthy Clark County website has plenty of resources to help you achieve your goals of losing weight and becoming healthier. We are always updating and adding things to our website and we have some great things planned for 2013! www.gethealthyclarkcounty.org