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An inconvenient truth for overweight Australians

February 20, 2014

The National Heart Foundation of Australia's Director of Cardiovascular Health programs, Dr Robert Grenfell has welcomed new research by the Australian National University, describing it as a much-needed wake up call for those who are overweight and obese.

The new study published in the PLOS One (Public Library of Science) journal aims to clear up public confusion about the health impact of being overweight and found that the myth that overweight people lived longer could be explained by the way the analysis had been conducted.

Dr Grenfell explained "this is the inconvenient truth that will be unwelcome news for those in the community who are at the larger end of the scales.

"Society has 'normalised' obesity which has given people who are overweight or obese a false sense of comfort in their own skin."?

"Whilst being of a healthy mind is a great benefit to your overall wellbeing the truth of the matter is, if your BMI is outside of the healthy range, you are at greater risk of heart disease and this risk increases exponentially with the more overweight you are.?

"The best BMI to be is relatively lean, at around 22.5-24.9 which is equivalent to a weight of 70-77kg for an Australian man of average height and 59-65kg for an Australian woman of average height."?

"We know that losing weight is hard but in the end it's worth it. It's not about finding a miracle pill or super diet, it's about looking for those easy wins everyday like eating a diet with a variety of vegetables, fruits, lean meats, whole grains and choosing reduced fat dairy products. Not smoking and being active wherever possible, like taking the stairs over the lift."?

Heart disease is the single leading cause of death for both men and women in Australia country and being overweight puts people at greater risk.

Dr Grenfell added "we live in the lucky country with access to some of the best food in the world but unfortunately, swimming in this sea of excess, has tipped the scales in the wrong direction. People need to make a concerted effort to get themselves back into the healthy BMI range."

The study followed more than 246,000 Australian participants from the Sax Institute's 45 and Up Study and looked at how their risk of death over a four year period varied according to their BMI. It investigated how these results varied with the methods used to analyse the data.

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