An important research article from the Harvard Medical School
The longer you are overweight, the shorter your life, suggests a study in the Feb. 28, 2018, JAMA Cardiology. It found that middle-aged men (average age 46) who stayed overweight shortened their lives by almost six years compared with those who maintained a normal weight.
A study published online March 16, 2018, by the European Heart Journal looked at almost 300,000 people without heart disease who were classified as either normal weight, overweight, or obese. Researchers found a direct correlation between higher body mass around the waste and an increased risk for heart attacks, strokes, and high blood pressure.
For instance, among the men who started with a 32-inch waist and a BMI between 22 and 23 (which is considered healthy), those who added five inches to their waist size raised their heart disease risk by 16%.
Not surprisingly, the longer you are overweight, the shorter your life, suggests a study in the Feb. 28, 2018, JAMA Cardiology. It found that middle-aged men (average age 46) who stayed overweight shortened their lives by almost six years compared with those who maintained a normal weight.
There are other health problems tied to extra weight, too. For example, excess weight can make you more susceptible to sleep apnea, joint pain, and arthritis and increase your resistance to insulin, which can lead to diabetes.
"But if you take off the weight, often many of these issues are reversible, even with just a modest amount of weight loss," says Dr. Plutzky.
Feeling the weight
While the scale and your clothes are the best ways to measure weight gain, everyday movements also can reveal how excess weight affects your health. For instance, can you climb a flight of stairs or walk a few blocks on a flat surface at a brisk pace without getting easily fatigued? If not, you should see your doctor about your weight. He or she can help with dietary changes and recommend proper exercise programs to help with weight management.
Where the weight lies
Where you carry excess weight makes a difference. Extra fat that accumulates just under the skin — subcutaneous fat — appears to cause few health issues, says Dr. Plutzky.
A more dangerous type of fat, called visceral fat, is stored at waist level, in the abdominal cavity, and can surround vital organs like the pancreas, liver, and intestines. Visceral fat makes up only about 10% of a person's body fat, but a 2016 study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that increases in visceral fat can worsen heart disease risk factors, such as blood pressure, blood sugar, and total cholesterol levels.
In general, a man whose waist measures 40 inches or more has excess visceral fat. But waist size is not always a clear sign. "Some people can accumulate visceral fat in a way that is much less visible," says Dr. Plutzky.
A little goes a long way
What if you are only a little overweight? Is an extra 3 or 5 pounds a problem? Not really, but you should be careful, says Dr. Plutzky. "Before you know it, 5 pounds can easily turn into 10 pounds and then 15 pounds, and then your weight becomes a more serious issue."
This doesn't mean that everyone who carries some extra weight also carries additional health risks, since there are many other variables at play.
"A person's overall cardiovascular disease risk is made up of a combination of factors besides weight, including family history, prior or current smoking, and high blood pressure," says Dr. Plutzky. "Also, some people just weigh more than others because they have more muscle and bone mass."
The takeaway here is you shouldn't obsess over a small weight gain, but don't ignore it either. Being mindful about your weight, nutrition, and exercise plan will go a long way, maybe even 6 extra years.
If your doctor has recommended a shift in your nutrition and exercise plan in an effort to manage your weight loss, please take advantage of our free health and fitness consultations and learn more about how PHASE IV science can help you reach your health and fitness goals.