Have you ever wondered where the BMI guidelines come from? Could they be completely arbitrary just like
all the most of the other health advice we’ve been dished out? A new study published in JAMA provides some clues:
A new US study suggests that while the link between weight and causes of death varies considerably, being modestly overweight may actually lower death risk in a number of circumstances by providing the body with essential nutritional reserves during recovery from illness and major operations.
What is interesting here is not only that it shows a BMI of 18-25 may not be a healthy objective, but it calls into question what “overweight” really means. Isn’t the weight that confers the longest longevity the “ideal weight” and that weights under and over that ideal are in fact “underweight” and “overweight”?
Or have we confused sexy with ideal?
Although it is assumed that we are naturally attracted to whatever/whoever is healthiest, this is not necessarily the case. Creatures often find characteristics sexy which confer little health benefit. A peacock’s tail is no doubt a hit with the peahens but it is also a bit of a drag if he needs to make a run for it.
It doesn’t take much imagination to see that humans have preferred for a number of traits which, through the generations, have made us into very odd looking apes – naked, big breasts, long head hair… None of which seem to do much in the fitness department other than to signal sexual fitness. So have these preferences hijacked scientific thinking about what is ideal for health?