Mixed Message Award

Ready to scratch your head in bafflement? Here is a beautiful, well-designed, thorough study with every criteria you could possibly want in order to get a clear answer. What’s more, this study looked at a pressing, serious, common issue that is near to all our hearts (so to speak) – does exercise and eating well offset the effects of weight gain when it comes to heart disease?

Here’s the answer, clear as mud: “Obesity confers an elevated risk of ACS [Acute Coronary Syndromes] in both healthy and less healthy subgroups of lifestyle behaviors. Adherence to healthy lifestyle behaviors was associated with a lower risk even among obese individuals.”

What does this mean? Are they saying you can’t be healthy and heavy – no matter what you eat or how much you exercise? Or are they saying that eating well and exercising are important, even if you’re heavy? This was a huge, expensive, well-designed study with long-term follow-up in people aged 50-64 – that key target group for life-change. Surely there should be an answer of some kind here, right?

Here’s the Doc Gurley take on this study’s results – our glass is both half-full and half-empty. Half-empty part: it is, somewhat, the weight. Even if you eat well, and exercise (3.5 hours a week was the amount for this study), eventually you want to try to gradually get your weight down. BUT here’s the glass half-full part: What you do does make a big difference to your health, regardless of your weight. That’s really encouraging news, and should take a lot of the pressure to yo-yo diet off everyone.

How do you put this information to use? I’d say take a tiered approach. Focus on eating well, and exercising. Once you’ve got those two huge approaches integrated into your life (and have them at your disposal as weapons to help with the weight), then think about gradually shifting yourself into a new target BMI. Healthy is the goal for us all – not a number.

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