Science says maybe!
If you're anything like me, you've spent a little too much time worrying about your appearance and not enough about your health. It's not uncommon, especially with all of the emphasis both doctors and the media have been putting on the idea of a 'healthy weight' lately. Which is why it's more than a little frustrating to find out all of that 'research' has been misrepresented, misconducted, or just plain wrong.
Researcher Dr. Malcolm Kendrick analyzed the findings of studied focusing on weight and mortality, and made some pretty significant observations (via):
"In 2009, a German group did a painstaking meta-analysis of all studies on overweight and obesity that they could find. As with most other researchers, they found that being overweight was good for you. Of course, they didn't phrase it in this way. They said: "The prevailing notion that overweight increases morbidity and mortality, as compared to so-called normal weight, is in need of further specification."
And this wasn't just one isolated incident. Multiple studies are discovering that the weight range widely considered to be 'normal' is actually not associated with a greater life expectancy.
It doesn't stop there!
Dr. Kendrick was extremely critical of the way researchers have been grouping their results. "In most studies, the entire population is divided ("clumped") into four groups: underweight, normal weight, overweight and obese – obese being defined as a BMI of 30 and above. That means those with a BMI of 31 are clumped together as part of a group which includes those with a BMI of 50 – and above. What does this tell us about the health problems of having a BMI of 31? Well, absolutely nothing." What it really might tell us is that the potential health risks of being what most people consider to be 'obese' might actually be overestimated.
That doesn't mean reach for a milkshake.
Excessive sugar is still probably not great for you. What this could mean is that our research into mortality and weight has been flawed for a long time, and that the causes of weight gain might not be an unhealthy lifestyle- they could mean the opposite. My takeaway is that I need to spend less energy worrying about the mirror, and more time eating healthier foods and getting exercise.