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Overweight People Live— Longer?

by Ryan Halvorson on Apr 01, 2013

Making News

If you were asked to visualize a model of longevity, would you picture someone overweight? Probably not. However, new research suggests that people who carry extra pounds could have a lower all-cause mortality risk than normal-weight people.

In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (2013; 309 [1], 71–82), researchers measured body mass index in 2.88 million people. The goal was “to perform a systematic review of reported hazard ratios of all-cause mortality for overweight and obesity relative to normal weight in the general population,” the authors explained.

They classified BMI into five categories: overweight (BMI of 25<30), obesity (BMI of ≥30), grade 1 obesity (BMI of 30<35), grades 2 and 3 obesity (BMI of ≥35) and normal weight (BMI of 18.5<25).

The findings?

Compared with normal weight, obesity (all grades combined) was associated with an 18% higher risk of all-cause mortality. That increased to a 29% higher risk for grades 2 and 3 obesity. On average, however, the overweight group had a 6% lower risk of mortality than the normal-weight group. And those in the grade 1 obesity group had a 5% lower risk than those in the normal-weight group.

“Relative to normal weight, both obesity (all grades) and grades 2 and 3 obesity were associated with significantly higher all-cause mortality,” the authors reported. However, “grade 1 obesity overall was not associated with higher mortality, and overweight was associated with significantly lower all-cause mortality.”

The authors did not look into why overweight and slightly obese people had lower mortality rates than normal-weight individuals.

What are your thoughts on this study? Sound off to rhalvorson@ideafit.com.

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About the Author

Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson IDEA Author/Presenter

Ryan Halvorson is the chief content officer for Fit Scribe Media (www.fitscribemedia.com); contributing editor for IDEA Health & Fitness Association; director of group training at Bird Rock Fit in La Jolla, CA; a Master Instructor for Metabolic Effect and the creator of www.Fat2Fitin30.com, a lifestyle organization dedicated to finding ways to achieve improved fitness, nutrition and healthy living habits in 30 minutes or less. He is an internationally recognized speaker and has written for publications such as DETAILS and GQ.