Does your risk of death increase as you get fatter?
Many researchers use Body Mass Index (BMI) to assess your degree of overweight. To calculate
your BMI divide your weight in kilograms by your height in meters, squared. The normal weight
range is considered to be in the range 18.5-25. Overweight is 25-30, and anything over a BMI of 30 is
The biggest cause of death is coronary vascular disease, and obesity amplifies this. When you get
fatter your blood pressure and cholesterol levels increase. And, if you smoke as well, then the
situation becomes even worse. If you are a normal weight smoker (>20 cigs daily), your mortality
rate (risk of death) is the same as being an obese non-smoker! Smoking and obesity amplify risk
of death. People must give up smoking, and even if they gain weight it is better than continuing to
High cholesterol, high blood pressure and smoking are the three big factors contributing to heart
attacks. And, obesity makes all of these worse.
Even gaining a modest amount of weight can precipitate chronic disease, making it even more
important to watch your waists.
The normal weight range is a BMI of 18.5-25, but even at a BMI of 21 there is an astonishing increase
of Type 2 Diabetes. The risk of all the obesity related health conditions begin to increase before you
get out of the normal weight range (eg increased risk of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease
and colon cancer. So don’t kid yourself that you can escape obesity related conditions because you
are in the normal weight range. A BMI band can be up to 16kgs, making it possible to actually be
fat, in the normal BMI range! Asians and Mexicans tend to get obesity related health conditions at
a lower BMI than Caucasians which is why experts are thinking of reducing the top of the normal
weight range for these populations to a BMI of 23.
So, what’s the moral of the story?
The more fat we have, the more likely it is to contribute to our eventual cause of death. Keeping our BMI in the lower part of the normal range optimizes our health and longevity.