Being Overweight Is Linked to Lower Risk of Mortality

By | January 3, 2013

Image: “Dis-Grace Jones”, Hard Ton copy of the Grace Jones Island Life pre-photoshop realistic composite photo of Grace.

The longest lived among us aren’t necessarily those who are of normal weight, says a new study. According to new research this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association JAMA , researchers say that being overweight may lead to a longer life. The somewhat surprising conclusion comes from an enormous, detailed review of over 100 previously published research papers connecting body weight and mortality risk among 2.88 million study participants living around the world. The new research CONFIRMs that obese people, and particularly those who are extremely obese, tend to die earlier than those of normal weight. But the findings also suggest that people who are overweight but not obese may live longer than people with clinically normal body weight. The new report is the largest and most comprehensive review of how weight, measured as body mass index BMI , a measure comparing the ratio of height to weight, can influence longevity. Previous studies that have exposed the link in the past, however, have raised questions about whether the overweight advantage is real.

“We published an article in 2005 that showed, among other things, that overweight was associated with lower mortality — and we got an awful lot of negative feedback from that,” says the current study’s lead author, Katherine Flegal, a senior research scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC . Since that study, however, dozens of others have reached the same conclusion — even if it was hard for researchers and the public to accept. “I think there’s a lot of under reporting of this finding … and so people are sort of repeatedly surprised by it,” Flegal says. Because many researchers don’t expect to find a benefit associated with being overweight, she suggests, they may not believe their results are valid if they find such a connection, which may make them more hesitant to publish them and invite review and discussion about what may be driving the trend. For the new study, Flegal and her colleagues analyzed every study they could find that broke down death risk broken by the standard BMI categories set by the World Health Organization WHO in the late 1990s: with underweight defined as BMI less than 18.5, normal weight being BMI between 18.5 and 25, overweight being BMI between 25 and 30, and obese as BMI of over 30. Men or women who are 5’4″ would have “normal” BMI if they weighed between 108 and 145 pounds, for example, and overweight if they weighed 146 to 174 pounds, and obese if weighed more than that.

In the new JAMA study, Flegal and colleagues only looked at research using the WHO categories. Even so, she acknowledges that interpreting the results may be confusing, since the names of the WHO “normal” and “overweight” categories don’t necessarily correspond to commonly held perceptions. Today, roughly 33% of U.S. adults are clinically overweight, according to WHO standards, and an additional 36% are obese. By those standards, the average American is not clinically normal weight at all, but considered overweight. So in fact, the overweight people in the study who tend to live longest may not be fatter than most people at all. Among Americans, at least, they may actually be of average weight.

In addition, say doctors, weight alone may not be enough to understand an individual’s risk of developing disease and dying early. The latest research shows, for example, that it’s not just the fat that comes with weight gain, but the type of fat, particularly fat that accumulates around the belly, that might be more life-threatening. All of which suggests that the connection between weight and health is a complicated one that may not be measured simply in years lived. …

via Being Overweight Is Linked to Lower Risk of Mortality |

So, thin people with fat guts are not in the long life category? Well, it only took me three hard days hiking and camping at 10,000 feet to lose mine. I can do it again. There are many absurd ideas about losing belly fat on line, including taking deep breaths. That may help you relax, but I think you need overall exercise, plenty of water, and you may need to cut out wheat. Read Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health


2 thoughts on “Being Overweight Is Linked to Lower Risk of Mortality

  1. Nathaniel

    Based on this and other stuff you’ve posted, you and I seem to have the same body type. I have been working on losing the gut, but also trying to gain muscle, an almost impossible thing to do at the same time, due to the huge quantity of food we skinny guys must consume. Wheat Belly is a very interesting read, and I did cut down on the wheat. In a few months more I’ll see if it helped.

    1. Xeno Post author

      As I understand it the amount of food we need depends on the nutrient density of what we do eat. If we eat foods lacking the minerals, complete proteins and good fats, then we have to eat more, which is unhealthy.

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