Maintaining a healthy weight has long been advised for living a healthy life. However, new research has shown that being either underweight or overweight could knock four years off your life expectancy. Maintaining a healthy BMI could be the best way to lower your risk of various health conditions, especially as you go past the age of 40. From lowering your risk of contracting diabetes to reducing your risk of heart disease, there are many reasons why a healthy weight is important for life.
Weight and life expectancy
A new report, published in the Lancet journal, has revealed that being either overweight or underweight could take four years off life expectancy. In one of the largest studies of its kind, it featured over 2 million people who were registered with doctors.
The study found that adults over 40 who were nearer the upper healthy BMI range were less likely to suffer from some diseases than those with a high BMI. A healthy BMI is considered to be ‘18.5 to 25’ and is considered by many health experts to be the most effective way to measure whether or not a person is at a healthy weight. In the study, a higher BMI was shown to shorten life by 4.2 and 3.5 years in men and women, respectively, while those who were classed as ‘underweight’ by their BMI, could experience a shorter life expectancy by 4.3 (men) and 4.5 (women) years.
The importance of a healthy weight for life
Being classed as overweight can increase the risk of developing conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer, while being underweight could weaken the body’s defences. I can also signal an underlying health problem. While not all health experts agree with BMI as the right tool to measure obesity, working out your BMI could give you some indication of whether you need to lose or gain weight.
Maintaining a healthy weight in winter
Winter can be a time when many people gain weight, especially around the festive period where we’re encouraged to ‘eat, drink and be merry’. However, eating and drinking too much and moving too little can make a significant impact on your waistline. Some things you can do to make sure you keep the weight off this winter and enjoy a healthy weight for life, include:
- Cook from scratch using natural ingredients, instead of relying on processed foods.
- Cut down on the amount of takeaways you order, as well as eating out.
- Limit the amount of alcohol you drink – alcohol can be high in hidden calories
- Substitute typical ‘treat’ foods with healthy alternatives, like fruit or nuts
- Make sure you get out and about, walk more and exercise to help you keep the weight off.
Maintaining healthy eating habits and exercising regularly is a good way to ensure you stay at a healthy weight for life. Making small changes to your lifestyle can have a big impact that could improve your life expectancy, as well as the quality of your life in your older years.
If you’re concerned about your weight, or want to make some changes to your diet, NHS Choices has some excellent food and nutritional advice on its website. You can also make an appointment with your GP to help you tackle issues with your weight and make some improvements to your lifestyle. A healthy weight is important for life, so make sure you stay on top of yours.