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2 January, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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Being overweight may be more harmful than you thought

David Railton
Being overweight may be more harmful than you thought

The holiday season is always a time of joyous over-indulgence with loved ones. But now that we are past Christmas and into January, you might want to consider making cutting back on unhealthful food one of your New Year's resolutions. This is because a new study — published in the International Journal of Epidemiology — has suggested that the harmful effects of being overweight have been underestimated in previous studies.

Some believe that being mildly overweight is good for health. This is because older studies have found that the optimum body mass index (BMI) associated with the minimal risk of death appears to be above the range that is normally recommended by doctors, which is between 18.5 and 25 kilograms per square meter.

But other scientists are less convinced by this, suspecting that these studies do not accurately reflect the full effect of BMI on health.

They argue that other factors, such as smoking or early stages of illness, can both lower BMI and increase risk of death, which makes figuring out BMI's influence on risk of death more difficult.

The new study, which was conducted by researchers from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, attempted to assess the causal link between BMI and risk of death by examining the health records of 32,452 mother and child pairs and 27,747 father and child pairs.

The BMI of parents and children is related due to genetic factors. The reason why the team used parent and child pairs was because the BMI of adult children is not influenced by illnesses their parents might have. Therefore, analyzing this information will avoid some of the problems that previous research has encountered in simply relating BMI to risk of death.

For example, some observational studies may accidentally have included data in their results from cases wherein illness leads to low BMI rather than when BMI influences illness. Scientists call this "reverse causation."

Prof. George Davey Smith, a professor of clinical epidemiology and director of the MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit (MRC IEU) at the University of Bristol, explains the benefits of this methodology.

"We are used to seeing conflicting studies purporting to show that something is either good or bad for our health. These generally come from naïve observational studies, which can produce seriously misleading findings," he says. One of the most common questions we have received in our email inbox is "how much should I weigh?" In this article, we will explain 4 common methods to help you work this out.

To determine how much you should weigh (your ideal body weight) several factors should be considered, including age, muscle-fat ratio, height, sex, and bone density.

Some health professionals suggest that calculating your Body Mass Index (BMI) is the best way to decide whether your body weight is ideal. Others say that BMI is inaccurate as it does not account for muscle mass, and that waist-hip ratio is a better method.

It's worth remembering that one person's ideal body weight may be completely different to another's. If you compare yourself to family and friends you risk either aiming too high (if you are surrounded by obese or overweight people), or too low (if everyone around you works as a fashion model). Even comparing yourself with people outside your immediate surroundings may not work.

"More robust approaches for identifying the causal effects of factors influencing health, such as the methods applied in this study, are required if we are to make recommendations for public health based on reliable evidence."

HealthDay

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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