About Wellness Corporate Solutions

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Thin Not Necessarily Healthy

An interesting question for those of us in the corporate wellness world: Is it better for employees to be fat and fit or thin and sedentary?

Contrary to popular belief, a new study published in The Archives of Internal Medicine indicates that body size may not be the best indicator of overall health. Indeed, the report found that many overweight and obese people are actually metabolically healthy, while those who are thin can have some of health problems we expect in their heavier counterparts, like high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

This research tracked markers of cardiovascular health including blood pressure, “good” cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar in 5,440 adults, and found that while slim people were generally healthier than those who were overweight or obese, a full 24 percent of those with a normal body weight had unhealthy levels for at least two risk factors. That’s roughly 16 million skinny people with serious potential health problems.

In contrast, half of the overweight people in the study were metabolically healthy, along with one-third of obese participants.

According to a post from Tara Parker-Pope’s “On Health” blog, there’s actually mounting evidence that weight shouldn’t be the biggest consideration when it comes to health problems. In fact, she cites several studies showing that physical activity is a far more important predictor of health than body size.

An interesting quote:
“We know that obesity by itself is a major coronary risk factor,'’ said Dr. Kenneth Cooper, the fitness expert who launched the aerobics movement. “But you can’t just rely on weight. You’re better off being fat and fit than skinny and unfit.'’
This is a nice reminder that we need to focus on the health and well-being of ALL employees, not just those who are overweight, who smoke or who engage in other traditionally high-risk behaviors. Sounds like a good reason to ramp up company-wide physical activity programs, too. . . .

1 comment:

Mike Craycraft said...

I guess most people were taught that you can't judge a book by it's cover. Hopefully, we will soon realize that it pertains to healthiness too. Without testing for risk factors you can't tell that you are unhealthy.