Interpreting Numbers

A recent meta-analysis in the Journal of the American Medical Association indicates that being overweight to moderately obese may actually reduce one’s risk of all-cause mortality. This has led to a whole host of responses from outrage (“I can’t believe that they are suggesting that people maintain higher than normal body weight!”) to smug snarkiness (“Well I think I’ll have those extra cookies after all.”) As an exercise scientist, I’ve long known that there is a wide range of what is ‘healthy’ in terms of BMI, or body mass index, a simple weight to height ratio (what is yours? find out here). After skimming the article, I conclude that weight and health are still inextricably linked, but having more flexible perceptions about body size would serve us well. More work clearly needs to be done, and perhaps done urgently; I know of one individual who will be charged higher insurance premiums if she does not hit a BMI target! For today, allow yourself permission to focus your health-promoting efforts on how you feel. Foods and activities that nourish us should be pleasurable and leave us feeling more alive and connected with one another. So log off and get outside for a walk with friends and family! 

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