A new study adds to the growing evidence that an elevated BMI increases the risk of a heart attack in otherwise healthy people.
In what has been called the largest study of its kind (data on over 500,000 people) researchers classified participants based on their body mass index (BMI), calculated as weight (kg) divided by the square of their height (m) and used standard World Health Organization (WHO) cut offs to classify each subject into categories:
· Normal weight – a BMI between 18.5 and less than 25
· Overweight – a BMI of 25 to less than 30
· Obese – a BMI of 30 or more
What was found:
After a follow-up period of more than 12 years, 7,637 people experienced some sort of cardiovascular event, including death from heart attack.
When compared to those who were of a healthy weight, people who were classified as healthy but overweight still had an increased CHD risk of 26%, and those who were healthy but obese had an increased risk of 28%.
In other words, having an elevated BMI, without any other risk factors, still increased risk.
Now, I know what you’re thinking…. “But, BMI is HORRIBLE!!”
And I know why you think BMI is horrible; BMI doesn’t tell us anything about the makeup of a person’s body weight. So a person who is 65% body fat could have the same BMI as someone who is 10% body fat and heavily muscled.
This is our major argument against the use of the BMI. It doesn’t account for the small percentage of the population that has a low body fat but that is heavily muscled enough to classify as overweight or obese.
But here its the giant pink elephant in the room that no one is talking about…
What if it does?
After all, as much as we all hate the BMI, we don’t hate the research, only the measurement.
It’s not the data collection or the statistical analysis we don’t like, nor is it the classification of cardiovascular disease. We only hate that it doesn’t tease out the overly muscled people.
In other words, we don’t like that the overly muscled people were included in data that shows that being overweight regardless of the make up of that weight increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.
We don’t like the idea that too much weight, regardless of whether that weight is fat, muscle or some combination, increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Just because we like the look of muscle, and just because what we have to do to get that muscle is largely considered healthy, it doesn’t exempt it from this data.
We do need to be open to the idea that maybe there is such a thing as too much muscle.
I don’t like the idea any more than you do, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be explored.