Sarah Mahoney’s article on MSNBC (and Prevention magazine) looked promising:
The overweight debate: Healthy and heavy?
Has science overemphasized the danger of a few extra pounds?
However, no one’s debating that weight loss can be one part of an overall disease prevention plan.
Mahoney then asks, “But is it the most essential first step? That depends on how many other disease risk factors you have…” and goes on to list age, family history, waist measurement, fitness (repeating the 30 minutes of walking 5 days a week) cholesterol, and inflammation (using C-reactive protein). Most of this is familiar, and Mahoney does not lump “overweight and obese” into one category.
Mahoney’s doctor used the Framingham Risk Score (an online version is here) which determines a 10-year risk of heart attacks, and told Mahoney she had a “very low” risk of heart attack.
She decides to lose weight anyway by increasing her exercise and changing her diet, gradually losing 7lbs in 4 months (yes, 7lbs may be still within her setpoint range). She writes,
My back and knees feel better; my cholesterol is a bit lower. Maintenance, though, is a daily struggle, and as the scale number rises and falls, so does my mood. I recalculated my Framingham Risk Score with my new weight — still the same 1 percent risk. Just for fun, I keyed in my dream weight of 130. Maddeningly, no change.
Still, I realized something. Even if it wasn’t about my heart health or my “relative risk of mortality,” it simply feels good to weigh less. I’m happy I can walk my dogs without pain, slide into my jeans without struggle, and buy a one-piece without cringing. If that’s not quality of life, what is?
Myself? I wholeheartedly agree that walking without pain is valuable, though I also wonder whether that’s due to weight loss alone, or if the increased exercise played a part. The mood, jeans and bathing suit? Is all about self-esteem and attitude. Those are things I don’t want to rely on a scale to dictate.
Just for grins, I calculated my risk of heart attack according to the online version of the Framingham risk score calculator linked to in the article (more details on the heuristics are here). I have the same 1% risk as Mahoney. I also found it interesting that neither version uses weight in its calculations….