Which Matters More: BMI or a Healthy Lifestyle?

by | Nov 8, 2021

We make choices every day that can either impact our health in a positive or negative way. By adopting a healthy lifestyle, we can take control over our health.  Many people have different perspectives of a healthy lifestyle.

What research shows about healthy lifestyle habits

A large study found that healthy lifestyle habits are linked to a decrease in premature death regardless of body mass index (BMI). In this study, 11,761 participants were followed for 170 months (over 14 years!) to study the link between lifestyle habits & premature death. ⁠

Here’s what the study found: ⁠

Regardless of BMI, these 4 lifestyle habits have been shown to decrease the risk of premature death: ⁠

  1. Eating ≥ 5 servings of fruits or vegetables per day⁠
  2. No smoking (or quitting smoking)⁠
  3. Moderate to no alcohol Intake (≤ 1 drink/day) ⁠
  4. Regular exercise (more than 12 times/month)⁠

This study found that all-cause mortality decreased by 29-85% for each of these lifestyle changes that the participants adopted! That is extremely significant! To put that in perspective, statins only decrease all-cause mortality by 12%. ⁠

A note about your Body Mass Index (BMI)

Being overweight and obese are common concerns amongst the population. 

These terms are defined by BMI. However, the BMI calculation does not take the following into account:⁠ lab values⁠, muscle or fat quantity, lifestyle and eating habits, bone density, body type, gender, age, waist circumference, and general health status. 

Many people assume that BMI classification determines whether they are unhealthy or healthy. The same study mentioned earlier shows that these assumptions were wrong for 75,000,000 Americans! In fact, the results show that 54 million Americans categorized as overweight or obese by their BMI were actually healthy according to their cardiometabolic measures. On the other hand, many of the participants who were categorized as “normal/healthy” on the BMI scale were actually considered unhealthy due to their lifestyle habits. 

Hence, it is vital for everyone regardless of BMI to adhere to a healthy lifestyle. This means that a healthy lifestyle is important for individuals of all ages, weights, and dietary needs. Not only will these factors increase the length of your life, they will reduce chances of developing chronic diseases. 

Takeaway: Tips for a Healthy Lifestyle and Living a Longer Life

  1. Limit alcohol to 1 drink or less per day.
  2. Quit smoking or don’t start smoking.
  3. Eat 5-9 servings of fruit and vegetables a day.
  4. Exercise at least 4 times per week or 150 minutes per week of moderate activity such as brisk walking, running, swimming, and playing tennis.

Schedule an appointment with one of our Registered Dietitians today to learn how WE can help YOU live a healthy lifestyle!

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