Do You Really Need to Lose Weight?
7 questions that can help you decide.
So your favorite jeans have gotten a bit too close-fitting for comfort.
Maybe you don't cut quite the figure in your bathing suit that you did a few
But do you really need to lose weight? Are you putting your
health in danger -- or just carrying around a little harmless extra
The standard answer is that you're overweight if your body mass index (BMI) is 25 or
higher and obese if your BMI is 30 or higher. But some new research is
confusing the weight-and-health issue a bit.
A study published in the April 20 issue of The Journal of the American
Medical Association (JAMA) found that people whose BMIs put them into the
overweight category actually had a lower risk of death than people in the
normal-weight group. (People who were considered obese still had an increased
risk of death.)
"When we looked at the overweight group â¦ we found that that group was
associated with fewer than the expected number of deaths," says study
author David F. Williamson, PhD, senior epidemiologist at the Diabetes Division
of the CDC. Does that mean that if you're overweight, but not obese, you should
quit worrying about dropping the extra pounds? Experts who spoke to WebMD gave
us some answers -- along with seven questions you should ask yourself.
What is your lifestyle? Regular physical activity and healthy eating are important,
no matter what your weight or your BMI.
What is your family history? If a close relative has a history of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, or other
weight-related ailment, it's crucial to be mindful of your weight.
What is your weight history? People who have consistently gained
weight over the years need be careful. Experts say your BMI should not increase
dramatically, even as you age. Even moderate weight gain in adulthood can
increase your risk of diabetes.
How is your weight distributed? Weight gained above the hips -- the
so-called "apple" shape -- can be problematic. In both men and women,
bigger abdomens can signal trouble.
What is your waist size? The National Institutes of Health has
determined that a waist circumference of over 40 inches in men and over 35
inches in women signifies a health risk, particularly in people with BMIs of
25-34.9 (the overweight category). Clothing size is not a good indicator of
weight or health, since sizes vary with different manufacturers. But you can
use your own clothing -- maybe a favorite pair of pants -- as a personal gauge
of your weight.
What is your health profile? If your cholesterol and blood pressure levels are high
and your BMI falls into the overweight or obese category, it's important to
lose weight. If your BMI is in the high end of healthy or in the low overweight
range, it's a good idea to talk to your doctor about whether weight loss is
right for you.
How do you feel? Seriously consider weight loss if you are
overweight and have joint problems, shortness of breath, or other health
troubles that limit your day-to-day living.