Don’t get fixated on weight

Is slim healthier than round? Not necessarily. Physical condition affects our health even more than a few extra kilos, says Professor of Nutrition Mikael Fogelholm.

BIGTALK is a video clip series in which Ville Halonen interviews University of Helsinki experts. The third clip deals with food and fitness and features Professor Mikael Fogelholm.

Studies of physical fitness indicate that a fit but overweight person may well be healthier than an unfit and normal-weight or skinny person.

“People who are normal-weight but do not exercise have a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases than people who carry ten extra kilos but lead an active lifestyle,” says Fogelholm.

Since excessive weight always comes with health risks, such as high blood pressure, overweight people evidently benefit from exercise. This is not to say, however, that slim and sedentary individuals can take it for granted that they are on a healthy track.

“Normal weight is by no means the only thing you should aim at in terms of health. A few extra kilos will do no harm as long as you are in reasonably good physical condition,” Fogelholm notes.

“It would also do us good to be more relaxed about our weight. Keep your five extra kilos; just make sure you do some exercise.”

There’s no need to become a sportsaholic, though, as Fogelholm points out, “A brisk fifteen-minute walk twice a day is all it takes to stay reasonably fit.”

Fogelholm also believes we should cut ourselves some slack as concerns nutrition, “Healthy eating protects us against diseases and is always beneficial irrespective of body weight, but going to extremes is no good. If you eat healthily most of the time, allow yourself a few treats every now and then!”

Professor Mikael Fogelholm in the TUHAT research database »»

Big Talk video clips on the University's YouTube channel »»

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Text: Tapio Ollikainen
Video: Tapio Ollikainen and Tiina Aarniala
Photo: 123rf
Translation: Language Services/Language Centre (University of Helsinki)
University of Helsinki, digital communications

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