A Healthy Lifestyle, Not a Slimmer Waistline, May Be Key To Living Longer

Reader Contribution by Justine Patton
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Skinny people are the healthiest, so they live the longest, right? New research suggests that may not be the case.

The study, which was performed by researchers at York University in Toronto, uncovered the truth: Obese people can live just as long as normal-sized people if they lead a healthy lifestyle.

Researchers observed 6,000 obese Americans for 16 years and compared their risk of dying with that of more than 23,000 normal-sized people. Here’s what they learned: The obese individuals who followed a nutritious diet and exercised regularly lived just as long as the regular-sized people. So, the key to living longer is to live a healthy lifestyle, regardless of whether or not it affects your weight. This will help you keep health problems at bay and live longer.

A new study suggests that all versions of this man, big and small, have a chance to live
a long life as long as they eat well and exercise often.
Photo by Combined Media/Courtesy

This doesn’t mean, however, that if you’re obese you won’t encounter some health problems. But first, how do you know if you are obese?

The simplest way to tell if you are obese or not is to calculate your body mass index (BMI), which is the measure of body fat based on height and weight that applies to adult men and women. Here are the categories:

Underweight: Less than 18.5
Normal weight: 18.5-24.9
Overweight: 25-29.9
Obese: 30 or greater.

To calculate your BMI, click here.

If you find out you are obese, you aren’t alone. About a third of adults in the United States are obese. This phenomenon is affecting children as well. About 17 percent, or 12.5 million, of children and adolescents in the United States are obese as well. In 2010, not one state in the country had a prevalence of obesity less than 20 percent.

Many factors can contribute to obesity, including:

• Eating more food than your body needs
• Drinking alcohol in excess
• Getting inadequate exercise

However, if you aren’t making any of the above mistakes and are still experiencing problems with obesity, then the study’s findings may apply to you. For more information, visit with your doctor about your current lifestyle habits, including what types of foods you munch on regularly and how much you exercise.

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