Skip to content
Surprising Science

Even If You’re Healthy, Weight Gain Carries Risks

It doesn't matter if you're at a healthy weight, just one point added to your BMI will increase your risk of cardiovascular and other diseases, according to a recent study.

You’ve put on a few pounds since Thanksgiving, and the holiday binge isn’t quite over. But it’s no issue, you say, a couple pounds isn’t unhealthy. However, just gaining that little extra weight—even if you’re not obese—increases your risk of cardiovascular and other diseases, according to a recent study.

Nicholas Bakalar of the New York Times writes on a paper, available online on PLOS Medicine, on a compelling study consisting of 12,664 young adults participants within a normal weight range. The premise of the research was to test whether an elevated body mass index (BMI) had adverse effects on metabolic processes. The researchers used the method of Mendelian randomization to examine 32 genes variants associated with a higher BMI. Each one was then assigned a “genetic score,” which was given based on predisposition to weight gain. Because of the high volume of people as part of the study, the researchers were able to separate nature from nurture—which were genetic tendencies towards obesity and which ones were caused by circumstance, such as diet, income, and exercise.

Those with elevated BMIs tended to have higher gene scores, which suggests that one’s BMI can be a huge determination in whether someone runs a higher risk of developing a cardiometabolic diseases. An elevated BMI alone causes these risk factors to occur, meaning they aren’t necessarily influenced by eating junk foods or exercise. It doesn’t matter how you do it, just maintain a stable, healthy BMI (though, diet and exercise certainly help).

After a period of six years, researchers examined 1,488 young adults, finding that increases in BMI—even within a healthy range–has adverse effects to their metabolism. While weight loss (within a healthy BMI) decreased these chances. Lead author and Head of Molecular Epidemiology at the University of Oulu in Finland, Peter Würtz, concluded from the data:

“Our study in young adults shows that even a modest weight loss tends to improve the metabolic profile. It doesn’t have to be a large change to have a beneficial role. Even with a normal B.M.I. of 24, it’s worth it to try to get it lower.”

It’s a good thing New Years is just around the corner, so think about hitting the gym to get that BMI down within a healthy range if it has been on the uptick over the holidays. Your chances of extending your life increase exponentially.

Read more at the New York Times

Photo Credit: Shutterstock


Up Next
Couples therapy is often a last-ditch attempt to save a faltering relationship. Navigating the potential obstacles that arise in therapy can be the difference between "let's stay together" and "let's break up."