We'll be the first to admit that it's pretty awesome to slip on a skimpy swimsuit and know you look amazing in it. But maintaining a healthy weight (whether that means dropping a few pounds or gaining some) is about so much more than inciting envy when you're at the pool. Here's proof.
Decreased Breast Cancer Risk
Being overweight can increase your odds of breast cancer by 30 to 60 percent, according to the Prevent Cancer Foundation. Abdominal fat is particularly dangerous; it can increase your risk by 43 percent.
MORE: How Your Weight Impacts Your Breast Cancer Risk
Improved Heart Health
Research published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology that looked at nearly 15,000 otherwise healthy Korean adults with no known heart disease found that people with a body mass index (BMI) of more than 25 were more likely to show signs of early plaque buildup in their arteries when compared to normal-weight people. This caused researchers to conclude that, even though these people may have been metabolically healthy at the time of the study, their weight was probably still starting to have negative consequences on their health.
MORE: New Study Says There's No Such Thing As Healthy Obesity
More Motivation to Exercise
Recent research published in The International Journal of Obesity suggests that overweight women's brains respond negatively to the idea of working out—but that the brains of women who are at a healthy weight are positively stimulated by photos of people in the middle of a sweat session.
The ideal weight—as far as fertility is concerned—is a BMI between 20 and 24, say fertility experts. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine actually estimates that 12 percent of infertility cases are because of weight-related issues (with roughly an equal number of people suffering from infertility being overweight and underweight). Why? Your weight can affect your periods and ovulation—so if you're not at a healthy poundage, your fertility can suffer.
MORE: Want a Baby Someday? How to Preserve Your Fertility
According to a 2012 study from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, losing weight—especially pesky abdominal fat—can help you log higher-quality Zzs. "Fat, and particularly belly fat, interferes with lung function," says Kerry J. Stewart, Ed.D., a professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University and one of the study authors. "It becomes harder for the lungs to expand because fat is in the way." And since breathing issues can lead to nighttime problems like sleep apnea, it takes a toll on your shuteye.
MORE: The Secret to Better Sleep
Decreased Risk of Diabetes
For people who are overweight, even minor weight loss is associated with delaying—or preventing—diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association.
MORE: Do You Have Prediabetes?
More Birthday Candles
It’s no secret that normal weight people have a lower risk of disease and thus, live longer. But do you know just how much longer? The Organisation for Economic Co‑operation and Development, which has studied the global economic impacts of obesity, says that for every 33 pounds of excess weight, the risk of death increases by about 30 percent. They estimate that the lifespan of an obese person (that's anyone with a BMI of 40-45) is up to 10 years shorter than that of a normal-weight person.
MORE: The Foods That Can Help You Live Longer
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