If You Trust Your Scale, You May Fail!
New research shows that weight is not a key factor in overall health and aging. Many consider Body Mass Index (BMI), a comparison of weight to height, to be an important measurement for health. A BMI score over 25 is considered “overweight,” over 30 is considered “obese” and over 40 is considered “morbidly obese”. However, BMI can be very misleading because it doesn’t take into account the most overlooked aspect of health, the actual makeup of the weight. Muscle is leaner and more dense than fat. Extremely muscular individuals could actually have BMIs that classify them as overweight or even obese. Increasingly, health experts say a better measure of overall health includes not only BMI but a test of “fitness,” too.
Does being thin mean a person is healthy? Absolutely not! They might look good on the outside and have a good BMI, but often they are no healthier than a person who weighs more. In one study, Cardiologist C. Noel Bairey-Merz, Director of the Women’s Heart Center as well as the Preventive and Rehabilitative Cardiac Center at Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, found that women who were routinely physically active and overweight (high BMI) were less likely to suffer heart problems than their normal weight counterparts who didn’t exercise. Fitness trumps fatness!
So, what should we be focused on? Two things- our fitness level and the makeup of our body weight (muscle versus fat). Forget the scale and look in the mirror. When our metabolism slows down at around age 50, men tend to gain weight in the abdomen while women tend to gain weight in their abdomen, hips and thighs. And it turns out, one is more dangerous than the others. Which one? You guessed it, abdominal fat.
Abdominal fat, called visceral (organ) fat, is more dangerous than fat elsewhere in the body. Geriatrician Arun S. Karlamangla, professor and clinician at UCLA, the health status of more than 4,000 men and women nationwide. He found that men with a waist circumference larger than their hips experienced a 75 percent increase in death rate. Wow! For women, risk increased gradually with every inch of increased waist size.
Abdominal or visceral fat fuels inflammation and disrupts our hormones because it is an endocrine (hormone) gland itself and it produces over 15 dangerous chemicals that wreak havoc on the body. Insulin is “fat fertilizer” and is produced in response to eating sugar, grains, processed carbohydrates, too much food at once and stress. This is a recipe for a big belly. A big belly is a recipe for chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and dementia.