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'Obese' Not Necessarily Unhealthy, UCLA Researchers Claim

Update Date: Feb 08, 2016 11:45 AM EST

Being 'obese' on the BMI scale does not necessarily mean unhealthy, new research suggests.

According to UPI, researchers at UCLA found that around 54 million Americans who labeled overweight and obese due to a high body mass index (BMI) are healthy if other factors including blood pressure, blood glucose and blood cholesterol levels are considered.

"There are healthy people who could be penalized based on a faulty health measure, while the unhealthy people of normal weight will fly under the radar and won't get charged more for their health insurance," study's lead author A. Janet Tomiyama said. "Employers, policy makers and insurance companies should focus on actual health markers."

For their study, researchers used data from the National Nutritional Health and Nutritional Examination Survey.

The paper published in the International Journal of Obesity, postulated that about 20.7 million Americans with normal BMIs are actually unhealthy compared to those categorized as obese or very obese. Around 2 million Americans are considered 'very obese' when BMI exceeds 30 are healthy.

"Many people see obesity as a death sentence. But the data show there are tens of millions of people who are overweight and obese and are perfectly healthy," Tomiyama said.

"This should be the final nail in the coffin for BMI," the study's co-author Jeffrey Hunger added.

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