Monday, October 29, 2018

Healthy BMIs

Based on a study done a few years back, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggested “that people who are modestly overweight actually have a lower risk of death than those of normal weight.” The CDC's suggestion implied that, in general, people with a BMI greater than 25 may generally be healthier than people whose BMI is lower than 25. However, subsequent studies have indicated that BMIs in the range of 20 to 24.9 are usually the healthiest BMIs.

The NIH classifies body weight as follows: A normal weight BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9. Overweight is between 25 and 29.9. A BMI between 29.9 and 39.9 is designated as obesity. And a BMI of 40 or more is considered to be extreme obesity.

A study done in Australia and the Netherlands looked at 246,000 subjects. At first the data indicated that the healthiest BMI range agreed with the CDC’s findings -- something above 25. However, "after adjusting their findings to exclude people with preexisting illnesses and smokers—two groups that tend to have lower body weights despite their poor health—the study authors found BMIs at the high end of 'normal' had lower mortality rates than people in the 'overweight' category."

Indeed, one of the most common chronic illnesses is hypertension. It’s associated with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular problems. Well, one study concluded that "Being as lean as possible within the normal body mass index range may be the best suggestion in relation to primary prevention of hypertension." So being lean, not overweight, is the healthier state -- at least for hypertension.

Healthcare providers should push back on the idea that BMIs greater than 25, in general, are healthier than BMIs between 20 and 24.9, except in special cases. Very muscular individuals, for example, may have a higher body weight for their height than normal, but still be healthy. Further, these more muscular individuals could be healthier than someone of normal BMI. However, in most instances, a BMI between 20 and 24.9 is desirable for good health.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

More Ideas for Fighting Childhood Obesity

Approximately a third of the United States adult population is categorized as obese. Researchers in the U.S. and other places in the world are working to create methods to fight the disease. Obesity is associated with a number of serious chronic illnesses. Therefore, reducing obesity is an important goal. And since childhood obesity often leads to adult obesity, establishing effective, early-life, childhood obesity treatments for the disease is urgent. And a number of ideas that have been put forward to fight adult obesity might be useful in fighting childhood obesity.

For example, according to one investigator, rather than sitting for a long period of time at an office desk, it is healthier to take frequent standing breaks to "decrease your chances of getting diabetes. ..." Further, 'If you can also walk around your office, you get even more benefits. You will lose weight, you lessen your chance of heart disease, and you will improve your brain.' And this idea might apply to children.

For example, as one study concluded, "Interrupting sitting with brief moderate-intensity walking improved glucose metabolism without significantly increasing energy intake in children with overweight or obesity." Further, "interrupting sedentary behavior may be a promising intervention strategy for reducing metabolic risk in such children."

Another example of how a treatment for adult obesity may be useful for childhood obesity is the drug, Metformin. Metformin is often used in adults to fight type 2 diabetes. And it can also be helpful with weight loss in some cases. The drug is now being considered for the treatment of childhood obesity.  Indeed, one study indicates that the drug can lead to weight loss in children. The investigators concluded that "Metformin compared with placebo has beneficial effects on anthropometric and metabolic indicators in the management of childhood obesity."

Based on the above studies, healthcare providers might want to consider advocating more intensive physical activity for children. The providers also might want to investigate the use of Metformin for some of their pediatric patients.

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