Not all obese people need to lose weight.
Evidence is mounting that obesity alone is not necessarily a predictor of bad health.
“It is important to realize that weight does not equal health,” says Dr. Jennifer Kuk, an assistant professor in York University’s school of kinesiology and health science.
In a recent study, Dr. Kuk and colleagues compared the health status of 6,000 obese Americans with 23,000 thinner people.
They found that obese people with no physical or psychological limitations had about the same risk of death as lean people, and were actually less likely to die from heart disease.
Obesity only becomes risky when it is accompanied by factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar and depression, they found.
“Obese people should go to their doctor to be evaluated,” Dr. Kuk told Metro.
“If their doctor finds that they are healthy other than an elevated body weight, then this research suggests that they should focus on a healthy diet with regular physical activity as opposed to weight loss,” says Dr. Kuk.
Earlier studies have found that trying and failing to lose weight could be detrimental to some people’s health.
How do doctors assess which obese people need to lose weight?
A tool developed at the University of Alberta, called the Edmonton Obesity Staging System (EOSS), shows your doctor whether you have obesity-related risk factors and therefore require some type of treatment or surgery.
“BMI only measures how big you are — not how sick you are,” says Canadian Obesity Network founder Dr. Arya Sharma, who developed the EOSS.