Let's begin with a definition of exactly what "overweight" is, because the term can be highly subjective. "Overweight" within this article refers to being classified as having a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or greater. The BMI calculation considers your body mass and height, and is most accurate for people without excessive amounts of muscle tissue (such as bodybuilders). While a BMI of 30 or more is classified as obese, this too would be relevant to being "overweight" under the context of this article. If you'd like to calculate what your BMI is, use our BMI calculator!
Over the last few years, there has been a lot of media exposure promoting the benefits of a positive self-image and body-image. It's now quite popular for a current affairs segment to feature "plus size models", who are models that are technically overweight.
With all this added exposure, it is often suggested that being overweight is "okay". And yes, this is perfectly reasonable advice. After all, you must love the body that you're in to really get the most out of life, whether you are overweight, underweight or within the normal bodyweight range.
Psychology aside, what we are considering here is if you can be overweight and healthy at the same time. Upon considering all the positive "plus-size" features, and all the negative "skinny model" stories recently, being overweight is more socially acceptable than it was a decade ago. So it is therefore easy to infer that being overweight is healthy. Unfortunately, the research does not draw the same conclusion.
Being overweight carries a number of physiologically related medical health risks. This includes an increased risk of:
- Type II Diabetes
- Coronary Heart Disease
- Metabolic Syndrme
- Sleep Apnea
- Gallbladder Disease
- Fatty Liver Disease
- Pregnancy Complications
Apart from these medical risks, there are lifestyle factors to consider too. If you're overweight, you'll find it harder to enjoy more physically active activities as a consequence of carrying around additional body mass. You may not be able to keep up with your kids, or may even sustain injury from being heavier than what a "healthy" BMI indicates.
We must not dismiss the potential psychological ramifications considerations of being overweight. It is commonplace to feel "down" about being overweight. Whether it's to do with being disappointed with how you look in the mirror, or buying "plus-size" clothes, experiencing depressive symptoms as a result of your bodyweight is not healthy in any sense of the word.
It's important to stress that there is nothing "wrong" with being overweight. If you are overweight then this is not something to be ashamed about. After all, we are all different shapes and sizes - and this is something that we should celebrate. The point of this article however is that you must not be mistaken into thinking that being overweight is healthy. It isn't - being overweight carries a number of health risks (physiologically and psychologically) and may negatively impact your quality of life.