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the difference between underweight and overweight

Friday, May 17, 2013

If my BMI was 18.5 the lowest normal weight, I could only lose ten pounds before a doctor would be concerned about my weight. If I had an injury, respiratory infection, bad anxiety or depression and I lost weight as the result, I could be at risk of developing complications due to be underweight.

If my weight was even fifty pounds over BMI 25, I would still In the category of Class I obesity which has a mortality equal to normal weight individuals. While being underweight increases mortality considerably.

When we look at averages of weights, we have to take this into consideration. People can be a hundred, two hundred pounds overweight, even more. A person is likely to be very ill if they weigh less than twenty pounds under normal. There are naturally thin people, but they are very rare. Thirty pounds overweight for most people just put them into the obese category. Overweight people according to research by the CDC live longer than normal weight people.

It's healthy to be a little overweight than a little underweight, but our society sees overweight as the danger.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    It's sad that society sees the skeletal thin as okay and better than being even slightly overweight.
    2752 days ago
    I think what I'm trying to say that it's more dangerous to be ten pounds underweight than ten pounds overweight. No one would disagree that at 5'2" and 93 pounds that it would be dangerous to get an injury, respiratory infection or anything else that could cause a 10 to 12 percent weight loss.

    I also think that because people can still be living for many, many years at a very high weight that average weights are skewed higher. One can only be so thin before major health issue occur.

    The point is that I've been 40 pounds heavier (and very healthy at that weight), but it would be life threating to be forty pounds lighter. Therefore, average weights are skewed higher. Of course, there are very few underweight women of my age. So few, that the longevity of underweight middle age women can't be determined with large scale surveys.

    2752 days ago

    Comment edited on: 5/18/2013 4:27:19 PM
    Personally I suspect the outcome of that research was influenced significantly by the fact that seriously ill people tend to lose a lot of weight, even if they believe that they corrected for such things adequately. Often they do not. The most notorious example of this kind of thing was the long-believed "fact" that hormone replacement improved the heart health and longevity of post-menopausal women. The reality turned out to be just the opposite. But it took a randomized, double-blind controlled experiment to prove it. All of the earlier research was of the same type as the one you're writing about: get yourself some populations of people who vary in respect to whatever you are studying, control for every variable you can think of as best you can, and compare how they do over time. In my not-so-humble opinion, the entire field of such research is inherently suspect.

    The other thing is that, once you get above what their first category of obesity is and into the second, the mortality risk goes WAY up, probably (but not certainly) above the threshhold where the type of study could be an issue and get it wrong. And the thing about lifestyles that lead to weight gain is that it rarely seems to stop without intervention. 25 year olds who are feeling relieved and justified in that they are "only" stage one obese right now arent' very likely to remain that way indefintely.

    I think the healthiest takeaway from this study would be for people who are having trouble losing weight (or have lost weight but not into the normal range) despite healthy habits and reasonable portions of food. They can reassure themselves that there's no evidence they are hurting their health if they simply can't lose anymore.
    2753 days ago
  • no profile photo CD12869499
    Very thought provoking. Many years ago, my grandmother who was many many pounds overweight was hospitalized, and lost about 50 pounds during her illness. The doctor had told her, that had she not had that extra weight to lose, she might not have survived her illness -- so as soon as she got out of the hospital, she was eating like a madwoman to gain back that weight. I think there are some truths and some false conclusions to that idea -- but interesting to think about!
    2753 days ago
  • HFAYE81
    Definitely thought-provoking. Our bodies are so unique that I think projecting ideal weight is finicky at best. Additionally, the facts from studies can often times be analyzed in a way that can give you a totally different conclusion than another analysis could give. It's not perfect.
    2753 days ago
    You are right. There is a lot less leeway at the underweight end of the spectrum. The thing is that overweight people in a country like the US, probably outnumber underweight people by thousands to one, so obesity gets most of the attention. When we look at, say, the Biafran famine of 1967, our attention would be toward helping the underweight. Also the BMI tables most used don't take individual needs and conditions into account. With all the advances in science and medicine, you would think the generally used means of evaluating correct weight would have improved over the last forty years. The current interpretation of BMI scale, which was developed between 1830 and 1850, was established in 1972.
    2753 days ago
    The problem here is that asking the wrong question may lead to wrong answers. While BMI can be a rough general guideline to distinguish between very overweight or obese people and relatively healthy weight people it is very inaccurate at best because it leaves out % of body fat versus % of lean muscle.
    Any very muscular person will be in the normal or even overweight or obese category by BMI but may be in the very lean category by % of body fat.
    In a situation of starvation, which can happen due to lack of food availability or illness, our bodies can use either body fat or lean muscle tissue for energy. Even most very lean people have about 40.000 or more calories stored in their fat tissue that the body can use in emergencies.
    I was normal weight for the last 25 years but my body fat % was very high, at about 30%, for most of that time. Looking at other health indicators like blood sugar levels I was not nearly as healthy as I am at about the same weight but only 20% body fat.
    2753 days ago
    My grandmother always said that her friends that carried a few extra pounds looked healthier and younger.
    2753 days ago
    Now, now --- don't you be confusing the issue with facts... emoticon

    Sad and funny how currently appearances are more important to most than the facts about actual health...

    Thanks for a thought-provoking post!
    2753 days ago
    Our recommended weight ranges give us a LOT of leeway. At my height the range is 118-154 and I’m happy to be right in the middle of it. At first I was happy to hear that it’s healthier to be a LITTLE overweight than underweight except when you look at the data, then it’s not so black and white.

    I always thought a few extra pounds were OK in case I got the flu or something, but that underweight category includes a lot of people with chronic or acute wasting diseases who are sick already. It also includes older people who lose their appetite as they age. After my Dad died, Mom was depressed, lost interest in eating and yes, was underweight when she died.

    Then there’s the fact that once you get a terminal illness, some extra weight will allow you to last longer or in more gruesome terms, take you longer to die of the illness. Sometimes that’s only months or up to a year. That may be statistically significant, but it’s not what we want to think of when looking for reasons that it’s OK to be heavier.

    Our society sees overweight as a bigger problem because 66% of the population are in that category (overweight, obese and worse). Those suffering from eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia also receive attention as do those with specific diseases causing them to be underweight. Other than those groups and those ethnically and genetically tiny, the percentage of people who still quality as “underweight” is a very small percentage of our society.

    In addition to a long life we hope for a good quality of life. How active and self sufficient we can be during those last years is important too. So, we’re back to avoiding extremes, eat healthily, exercise etc. That’s really all we can do and hope for the best.

    Watermellen wrote about this awhile back including this link.

    2753 days ago
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