FourFourtwo: A new study suggests that many people aren’t quite so healthy as we’d think.
In an effort to understand why some people seem to be as healthy as others, Dr Paul Dutton and colleagues recruited and matched volunteers with similar ages, bodies and eating habits.
The results were surprising, according to Dr Dutton.
“We expected that people who ate the same food for years would be similar in all their health measures,” he told ABC News.
But some of the participants, for example, were not only unhealthy but also more likely to have health problems.
For example, people who were overweight had an average of about 2.6kg in body mass index (BMI) which was almost twice the average for a healthy person, and about 1.5kg higher than the average person of their own age group.
But for people who didn’t have a healthy BMI, it was around 0.6.
For this reason, they tended to be more likely than healthy people to be obese, and that led to an average BMI of around 26.
“It seems that these individuals are less likely to be healthy than those who are healthy, and are more likely [to be] obese,” Dr Dutter said.
“So it’s not just that they’re healthier but also less healthy than people with a healthy lifestyle.”
Dr Dutton’s team looked at the number of unhealthy foods that were consumed by people and found that those who ate more than one type of food were more likely, overall, to be unhealthy.
“This suggests that there are people who are more at risk of developing obesity, but not necessarily obesity as such,” Dr Peter Glynn, from the University of Adelaide, said.
While the team didn’t find a causal link between people’s eating habits and their health, it did suggest that it might be beneficial for those at risk to have healthier eating habits than those with a normal lifestyle.
“The study showed that people with lower BMI and lower obesity were more at-risk of developing metabolic syndrome, the chronic inflammatory diseases, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some types of cancer, but there were no such effects for those with higher BMI and higher obesity,” Dr Glynn said.
Dr Dutoit also points out that people eating unhealthy foods are at greater risk of becoming obese, even if they do not actually have metabolic syndrome.
“People who are at risk for metabolic syndrome are those who have the lowest BMI and have a low waist-to-hip ratio, and they’re more likely,” Dr David McAllister from the National Obesity Forum said.
For people who don’t have those conditions, Dr McAllisters research suggests they are still at greater danger of developing type 2 diabetes.
“There’s evidence that people at higher risk for diabetes are those with the highest BMI and who also tend to have the highest waist-width ratio, so they’re less likely than their peers to have diabetes,” he said.