Live Longer... Gain Weight!
I've been called a lot of things over the years because of my devotion to fitness. Health nut. Fanatic. Twinkle toes. (I'll leave that last one to your imagination.) It never bothered me because the facts are simple and straightforward. People, who keep their weight under control and are in-shape, live longer more active lives than people who don't.
Now however, there are new numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that, at first glance, seem to contradict that long-standing belief.
The CDC said in April of 2005 that being obese (extremely overweight) is definitely lethal...but if you are only moderately overweight, you actually have a lower risk of death than people who are a normal weight.
Suddenly overweight people everywhere were standing up and saying, "Ha! I can be fat AND live longer than you health nuts!"
Unfortunately, that's not true.
First, it helps to understand how the CDC grouped people in its study into different categories. They used a scale called Body Mass Index or BMI.
Underweight had a BMI of LESS THAN 18.5.
Proper weight had a BMI of 18.5 to LESS THAN 25.
Overweight had a BMI of 25 to LESS THAN 30.
Obese had a BMI of 30 and up.
What the CDC reported was that people in the overweight category actually lived slightly longer than people in the proper weight category. It doesn't take a genius to figure out why. I can sum it up in 6 words.
MUSCLE is more dense than FAT.
I stand 5'11" and weigh 195 pounds. On the BMI scale, I'm a 27 and technically am overweight and prone to health risks. But as any doctor who examines me knows, I have a low percentage of body fat and a high percentage of muscle. My weight is actually ideal, but you wouldn't know that just looking at my BMI.
The CDC study didn't take into account the amount of fat or muscle anyone had. People who work out regularly tend to be healthier and live longer than the rest of the population, but they weigh more than their BMI ideal because they carry more (dense) muscle.
When the CDC grouped everyone into simple BMI categories, they put one of the healthiest segments of the population in the "overweight" category. Not surprisingly, the "overweight" group had the highest average longevity thanks to the boost from all the people who work out.
It wasn't Mrs. Smith's Pies that helped people live longer; it was the Smith Machine. Fit people carried overweight people in the study. That won't happen in real life.
THE BOTTOM LINE: If you workout regularly and your bodyfat percentage is acceptable, your BMI can be higher and not jeopardize your health. If you don't workout, you should get your weight within the suggested "healthy" BMI range.
SPECIAL for our online readers!
There is an organization called The Center for Consumer Freedom that is running ads on television, in newspapers and online to "[protect] the right of adults and parents to choose what they eat, drink, and how they enjoy themselves. Defending enjoyment is what we're all about!"
Don't get sucked in by their doubletalk. The wonderful thing about America is that you can buy and eat practically anything you want. It's a free market, and as long as a food isn't deadly, you can probably find somebody willing to prepare it and legally sell it to you.
The Center for Consumer Freedom would have you believe there is a "...cabal of "food cops," health care enforcers, militant activists, meddling bureaucrats, and violent radicals who think they know "what's best for you" ...pushing against our basic freedoms. We're here to push back."
Well, aren't they just the nicest people! Protecting your rights. Of course, nobody is stopping you from eating a Big Mac (or anything else for that matter) but, The Center would have you believe "violent radicals" are out there just waiting to take away your choices.
What is The Center's agenda? Who funds them? According to their website it's, "supported by restaurants, food companies and more than 1,000 concerned individuals."
Ok, but exactly WHAT restaurants and food companies want to protect our food choices? The Center's website goes on to say, "Many of the companies and individuals who support the Center financially have indicated that they want anonymity as contributors. They are reasonably apprehensive about privacy and safety in light of the violence some activist groups have adopted as a 'game plan' to impose their views."
Ah yes. Whenever we speak the truth, it's always best to hide behind a veil of anonymity so "activist groups" can't engage us in a debate!
In a nutshell, The Center is a lobbying group intent on protecting food companies right to sell you crap without bothering to tell you what harm their foods can do to you. They aren't doing you any favors. Don't fall for their misinformation campaign.
Be an informed consumer and read the nutrition labels on food. Make healthier choices when you can, and when you indulge, do so in moderation. And the next time you see an ad from The Center for Consumer Freedom, give it your full attention by extending your finger and hitting the MUTE button on your remote control.
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beginning any diet or exercise program.