Study suggests overweight people less likely to die early
Moderately overweight people have lower mortality risk than their slimmer counterparts, found Dr Katherine Flegal of the National Centre for Health Statistics in the US.
Data indicated that having a body mass index (BMI) between 30 and 35 lowered death risk by five percent; however, those whose BMI exceeded this remain at high health risk.
The study had a sample size of almost three million individuals and analysed information garnered from almost 100 other studies to compare BMI (weight in relation to height) with risk of death. Flegal stresses that the findings are looking at death rates specifically and not general health.
Dr Samuel Klein of the Centre for Human Nutrition at Washington University School of Medicine cautions that although “being overweight doesn’t increase your risk of dying, it does increase your risk of having diabetes”.
One explanation for these findings is that overweight patients are more likely to receive medical treatment. Doctors will have identified any conditions associated with weight gain in those patients.
Although it has not been proven, some experts believe that fat can be protective, especially in the elderly. According to Dr Robert Eckel, the recent president of the American Heart Association, “extra body fat when you’re older is providing some reserve”. It is implied that those who carry more weight will have reserves should they fall to ill health and consequently lose weight.
A little extra body fat may not be as detrimental as is often publicised; however, there are definite health risks to obesity. Some experts say that the definition of “normal BMI” should be revised and that more should be taken into account than BMI alone to gain a more comprehensive picture of the continuing disputes between weight and heath.