I came across this TED talk last month which shed some interesting light on weight and health. Sandra Aamodt is a neuroscientist who talks about her life long struggles with dieting. She highlights a fascinating study which looked at the effects of four healthy lifestyle habits – eating fruits and vegetables, exercise three times a week, not smoking, and moderate alcohol consumption – on risk of death for people in different weight classes. This graph highlights the results:
The graph divides people into three weight categories – “normal”, “overweight”, and “obese”. In each of these categories, people are divided by how many of those four healthy habits they had. The difference in bar height shows the difference in relative risk of death for these categories.
Not surprisingly, among the people with few or no healthy habits, the risk of death was much higher for those who were obese or overweight. Also not surprising, more healthy habits reduced the risk of death in all the weight categories. The big surprise was the decline in risk for the obese and overweight. For those with all 4 healthy habits, the relative risk of death was the same for all weight categories. Surprised?
This shows what dietitians have known for a long time: there is more to being healthy than your weight. Health has many important components. Having a healthy diet is beneficial no matter what your weight. So, if you are having a hard time losing weight, don’t get discouraged. Remember, weight is just a number. Keep making good choices for diet and exercise, and rest assured that you are still helping improve your overall health.
Here’s the video if you want more information:
Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will will answer them in upcoming posts!