Forget the “Ideal Weight”

An insightful article from the New York Times argues that the idea of an “ideal weight” should be forgotten, and the focus should be shifted to “dangerous weights.” This came after an article in the The Journal of the American Medical Association, written by University of Rochester Professor Emeritus, Dr. Thomas R. Knapp. Dr. Knapp’s webpage can be found here.

The Ideal Weight is Based on Oversimplifying Inconsistent data

  • Most ideal weight calculations are based on the positive correlation between being underweight/overweight and mortality. These correlations are simplified to suggest an ideal weight based on height, which can be easily debated.
  • Standard conversions for height/weight are inconsistent and most of the data is not “clean” enough for comparison. For instance, some studies don’t ask patients to remove clothing before measuring weight, which adds an initial layer uncertainty to the data.
  • Large, representative data sets for men and women, measured periodically for age, weight, and height are hard to come by.

Instead of focusing on the ideal weight, Dr. Knapp suggested avoiding the “dangerous zones,” which can vary from person to person. Read the full article for a more in depth discussion.

Obesity: What it Means and How it Affects You (AHA)

The American Heart Association (AHA) defines obesity as having a BMI of 30 or greater, and it states that almost 70% of Americans are either obese or overweight. Although it is common to be above your ideal body weight, there are health implications that may put you at risk if you are part of that 70%.

Some Reasons to Lose a few Pounds

  • In a healthy weight-range, your body can more effectively circulate blood, manage fluid levels, and you are less likely to develop heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, and sleep apnea.
  • Obesity can raise blood cholesterol which raises the risk of heart disease and strokes.
  • Increased danger of heart attack arises from induced diabetes.

Recommended Treatment

It is recommended by the AHA that obese people seek treatment from a medically supervised weight loss program with continuous interaction with a medical professional over a period of 6 months. This program should consist of diet, exercise, and learning to skills to create new healthy behaviors.

Information for this page and more can be found at the AHA page on healthy living