Most people who lose weight become less healthy as a result. People who want to become thinner and stay healthy are best off doing that in the bodybuilding way, according to an epidemiological study in which 26,625 Danes took part. Your aim should not be a lower bodyweight, but rather a higher bodyweight – with a lower fat percentage.
Weight loss dangerous?
We are all getting too fat and should eat less, going by what experts say in the media. Left at that, though, it’s a dangerous message, because studies in which researchers have followed people who have lost weight over a longer period suggest that weight loss increases your chance of dying. The study that epidemiologists at Copenhagen University and Aarhus University published in PLoS One comes to the same conclusion.
The researchers measured the BMI and the waist measurement of their subjects on two occasions in the 1990s and at the start of the 21st century. After that the researchers monitored them for an average of 6.7 years.
That enabled the researchers to calculate how an increase or decrease in BMI affected the likelihood of dying [HR, or mortality]. The results are shown in the figure below. As you can see, a decrease in BMI increases the likelihood of dying, but this actually goes down if your BMI increases. Indeed. According to these figures it’s healthier to be heavy than to lose weight.
The figure above shows the relationship between waist measurement and chance of dying. The smaller the measurement, the less likely you are to die. The bigger the waist measurement, the more likely you are to die.
The researchers think that muscle is healthy. The more muscle mass you have, the better. But what’s really unhealthy is the fat in your abdominal area that surrounds your organs. Unguided weight loss probably costs you muscle mass, and therefore increases your mortality risk.
“These findings suggest a need for development of prevention and treatment strategies targeted against redistribution of fat mass towards the abdominal region”, the researchers conclude.
Unhindered by scientific knowledge, we have a suggestion for everyone who wants to live to be 100: try to put on weight while at the same time reducing your fat percentage as much as possible. And that’s exactly what bodybuilders do.
Changes in Waist Circumference and Mortality in Middle-Aged Men and Women
Waist circumference (WC) adjusted for body mass index (BMI) is positively associated with mortality, but the association with changes in WC is less clear. We investigated the association between changes in WC and mortality in middle-aged men and women, and evaluated the influence from concurrent changes in BMI.
Data on 26,625 healthy men and women from the Danish Diet, Cancer and Health study was analyzed. WC and BMI were assessed in 1993–97 and in 1999–02. Information on mortality was obtained by linkage to the Danish central Person Register. Hazard ratios (HR) were estimated with Cox regression models. During 6.7 years of follow-up, 568 and 361 deaths occurred among men and women, respectively. Changes in WC were positively associated with mortality (HR per 5 cm for the sexes combined ?=?1.09 (1.02?1.16) with adjustment for covariates, baseline WC, BMI and changes in BMI), whereas changes in BMI were inversely associated with mortality (HR per kg/m2 for the sexes combined ?=?0.91 (0.86, 0.97) with adjustment for covariates, baseline WC, BMI and changes in WC). Associations between changes in WC and mortality were not notably different in sub-groups stratified according to changes in BMI, baseline WC or when smokers or deaths occurring within the first years of follow-up were excluded.
Changes in WC were positively associated with mortality in healthy middle-aged men and women throughout the range of concurrent changes in BMI. These findings suggest a need for development of prevention and treatment strategies targeted against redistribution of fat mass towards the abdominal region.