Tag Archives: weight

Is There a Healthier Sub-type of Obesity?

The concept of ‘metabolically healthy obesity’ (MHO) has recently been circulating through the medical community, causing a few ripples as it goes. It refers to individuals who fall into the ‘obese’ body mass index (BMI) category, but according to a few criteria, may not be at the same heightened risk of disease that most obese people are.

What Criteria Define Metabolically Healthy Obesity?

There is little consensus on the exact details of MHO, however, Dr. Hu of Harvard Health maintains that obesity is not a homogenous category of people. He has outlined the following criteria to help better define MHO:

  • A waist less than 40 inches for a man or 35 for a woman
  • Good overall fitness
  • Normal sensitivity to insulin
  • Normal blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol

The Concept is Highly Debated

Many medical professionals argue that just because a ‘metabolically healthy’ obese person exercises frequently or doesn’t currently have any indicators of ill health doesn’t mean they soon won’t develop issues. There is such a vast sea of research and scientific proof linking obesity to hundreds of medical conditions that suggests an obese person who is active and shows no current signs of insulin resistance or heart problems is still at a higher than average risk of developing future complications because of his or her weight.

The Bottom Line About Obesity

Weight isn’t always a perfect indicator of health or disease risk. Skinny people often develop heart disease or high cholesterol if they don’t lead a healthy lifestyle and sometimes those who are obese don’t develop many health issues and can be overall healthier than smaller people. Thus, there very well may be a MHO phenotype that can help stave off illness for longer. However, scientifically speaking, people who are obese (with a BMI of over 30) are at elevated risk of developing many diseases such as some types of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and many other troublesome conditions. So, just because someone who is excessively overweight doesn’t have health problems in the present won’t guarantee them immunity from obesity-related risks in the future. The best way to lower the risk of obesity-related conditions is not only to exercise routinely, but also to eat a healthy diet that is high in produce and low in animal fats, saturated fats and simple carbohydrates and to attend medical checkups regularly.

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Medical Conditions That Can Cause Weight Gain (Part 1)

Most often weight gain is simply that, we all fluctuate in our weight over the course of a lifetime, but sometimes it can be caused by an underlying health concern. If you’ve been exercising and eating the same as you always have but notice the pounds piling on, you may want to look into the following conditions:

  1. Dysthymia (chronic depression)

Also known as persistent depression disorder, dysthymia can cause unwanted weight gain because the brain releases higher levels of cortisol when depressed, which has also been linked to weight gain. If this steroidal hormone is constantly being released over long periods of time it will very likely adversely affect one’s waistband.

  1. Cushing syndrome

Cushing syndrome is a condition that develops from an over active pituitary gland. It causes a collection of unpleasant symptoms including unwanted and sometimes significant weight gain. Because Cushing syndrome presents as multiple smaller diseases, it is often misdiagnosed initially.

  1. Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is an autoimmune condition whereby the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone. This underproduction negatively effects the metabolism leading to such symptoms as unwarranted weight gain, lethargy, face puffiness and a slower heart rate.

  1. Oedema

More commonly known as fluid retention, oedema causes different parts of the body to retain fluid and swell which can increase the number on the scales. This can be a symptom of different underlying diseases such as diabetes, a side-effect of a medication or can even be caused by PMS.

  1. Cirrhosis of the Liver

Cirrhosis of the liver is a life-threatening condition that causes the liver to malfunction, ceasing to carry out its routine tasks. This leads to inflammation of the liver and fluid retention which often takes the form of weight gain. Cirrhosis is often caused by alcoholism but sometimes develops as a result of a separate health condition.

  1. Acromegaly

This rare condition is marked by excess production of the human growth hormone (HGH), most often due to a pituitary adenoma. Symptoms include weight gain, fatigue and enlarged organs and body parts. It can cause other health complications as well such as diabetes.

These are just a few of the medical conditions that can lead to unsolicited weight gain, stay tuned tomorrow to read about 4 more, as well as some non-disease causes of weight gain. If you have any medical concerns or questions about any of these conditions, feel free to sign up for a video conference with one of our highly qualified DocChat physicians. Thanks for visiting DocChat today!


Is BMI A True Indicator Of Fitness?

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a formula of total body weight in pounds divided by overall height in meters that was created by the National Institutes of Health in 1998. It was established to measure fitness, or more specifically whether a person falls into a ‘healthy weight’ category. For years health professionals and exercisers have been using BMI has the go-to tool to distinguish ‘fat’ from ‘fit’, but there have always been questions surrounding its true effectiveness to deem a person’s health. Recently new studies have brought new doubts to light about the BMI’s effectiveness as a health marker.

BMI Categories

The current BMI indicator values are:

Underweight: Body fat percentage of less than 18.5
Healthy Weight: Body fat percentage of between 18.4 and 24.9
Overweight: Body fat percentage of 25-29.9
Obese: Body fat percentage of over 30
(You can calculate your BMI here.)

Supporting Arguments For BMI

Many medical professionals argue that BMI is an inexpensive, standardized and accessible weight category screening tool. But these professionals likely realize the limitations the BMI calculator carries, and won’t use it as a sole indicator of a person’s health. It was created to be used as a general healthy weight guideline, giving people a good goal category to try to achieve. Falling in the ‘healthy weight’ category may reduce a person’s risks of obesity and weight-related health conditions such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease. However, a BMI category does not make or break a person’s overall health.

Why BMI Isn’t a ‘One Size Fits All’ Tool 

The BMI system is flawed because it cannot differentiate between different types of fat or muscle mass. Therefor those who are very muscular or densely built may show as “overweight” or “obese” when they may be in excellent health. Women with certain shapes may show as “unhealthier” than they really are because BMI can’t distinguish between proportion either. For example, a very busty woman with little visceral fat elsewhere may show up in the wrong category. Similarly, some people may be very physically fit but is naturally a little on the heavier side who is wrongfully categorized as well. In these cases, a BMI isn’t the best tool to tell whether these people are ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy”.

New Studies Say “Back To The Drawing Board” 

According medical writer Catharine Paddock, PhD, new studies bring some startling concerns to light such as misclassification and discrimination when it comes to employers and insurance companies unfairly penalizing people for BMI status. One particular study found that cardiometric testing proved that over 50 million Americans who were classified as overweight or obese by their BMI results were actually in perfect health, while 21 million who were categorized as “healthy” by BMI standards were in actuality very unhealthy. Basically a person can be larger than another person but exercise much more, perform better in cardiovascular assessments and lead healthier lifestyles than the smaller person. Unfortunately, many employers and insurance carriers in the United States rely too heavily on the BMI index to decide whether a person gets certain coverage or health benefits. This is clearly not a fair way to dole out benefits.

In bref, the BMI calculator is a great tool to help motivate people to reduce body fat to a healthier range, but it simply cannot be solely relied upon to determine a person’s fitness or overall health. There are too many confounding factors and personal variances for the BMI to be very accurate across the board. Thanks for visiting DocChat, we hope you’ll be back soon!