Could being overweight not be as bad as many think…

IAS News 3 January 2013 | 0 Comments

Recent reports have suggested that carrying a little bit of extra weight could lead to living a longer life. But surely this goes against all previously held beliefs about the overweight being unhealthy and needing to be fit and trim to live those extra years.

The Study

Being heavily overweight or extremely underweight will have a negative effect on the length of lifespan, but it seems that carrying a few extra pounds, and being slightly overweight, is not as much of an issue as previously considered. The study carried out by Katherine M Flegal Ph.D, who works for the National Center for Health Statistics, showed a 6% less chance of death for those seen as overweight, and a 5% lower death risk for those with a BMI of between 30 and 35 compared to those seen as healthy weight (BMI 25-30). The sample size was over 2.5million, and contained almost 300,000 deaths.

The Criticism

However this study has been criticized by some who have pointed out that this may encourage people to feel they have free rein over what they eat. Tam Fry, who is a spokesperson for the UK National Obesity Forum, said that the consequences of people going out and eating in excess will be catastrophic. Death rate is one thing but the rate of disease is completely different. Being dependent on medical treatment for heart, liver, kidney and pancreas problems – among others – will be a side bar to being overweight in the long run.

The Reasoning

Looking into possible reasons for why this and a previous study showed these surprising results have revealed that it may not be as farfetched as some have thought. A little bit of extra fat tissue around the heart may protect it from the times when illness or being in hospital may create a loss of appetite, and the placing of the fat is also key – with that on the hips being good while on the stomach is not so good. Also key maybe the health risks of being overweight such as blood pressure and cholesterol are all much easier controlled due to advances in medicine. Fitness also plays a part – overweight, smoking, eating junk food and taking no exercise are all indicators of a decidedly shorter lifespan.

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