Being overweight linked to lower risk of mortality

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wlillie's picture
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Being overweight linked to lower risk of mortality

Being overweight linked to lower risk of mortality -

Taken from the article
Overall, people who were overweight but not obese were 6% less likely to die during the average study period than normal-weight people. That advantage held among both men and women, and did not appear to vary by age, smoking status, or region of the world. The study looked only at how long people lived, however, and not how healthy they were whey the died, or how they rated their quality of life.

Why would overweight people live the longest?

Flegal and her co-authors suggest that it's possible that overweight and obese people get better medical care, either because they show symptoms of disease earlier or because they're screened more regularly for chronic diseases stemming from their weight, such as diabetes or heart problems.

There is also some evidence that heavier people may have better survival during a medical emergencies such as infections or surgery; if you get pneumonia and lose 15 pounds, it helps to have 15 pounds to spare, for example.

Do you think it's beneficial for people to be told that being overweight may help them live longer? Would you gain 15lbs if you thought it would help you live longer? Or slack off on losing the weight you felt like you needed to before hearing that?

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I for one never thought that being some overweight was an issue in and of itself. The weight margins are pretty narrow and where the issue comes in is when a person becomes obese and even moreso into morbid obesity. (Even the article points out that there are issues with how the categories are drawn with regard to normal weight, overweight, and obese.)

From the article:

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.

Flegal also says her findings may necessarily be contrary to previous studies about the relationship between BMI and mortality because those analyses used a variety of different BMI categories with different cut-points for the various weight groups. 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.

And as the article pointed out, the common factor was getting medical care and screening. In other words, a person who is overweight may expect that it's more likely to develop an illness than an a more healthy appearing slimmer person so they get screenings done. Whereas it's possible for any person to live within the mentality of, "What's going to happen to me, I'm not overweight (or obese, or I'm ok) and appear not to have overt risk factors," yet something creeps up on them they never would have suspected due to not getting check ups even with symptoms possibly present.

Besides all of this, being some overweight is not an issue if a person is healthy and even fit despite being overweight. I don't think weight is the only determining factor to fitness or health when the overweight bit is closer to normal weight than the range of obesity and certainly morbid obesity.

So the study does not really mean much to me at all. We should all get checkups and make sure we're healthy and fit. I think the journalists and even the researchers perhaps have written their conclusions in a misleading way and have highlighted the wrong aspects.

mom3girls's picture
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I think it probably has something to do with better screening for people that are overweight. My grandmother was tiny, on the border of being too thin for much of her life, and when she was tested in her 60s her cholesterol was through the roof as well as her blood pressure. She was shocked that no one had tested before that age.

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Nah. I'll stay skinny and just continue to get checkups and whatnot. I wouldn't feel as healthy or self confident with 15 more lbs on my frame, regardless of what a study says. I would tend to not believe anyone who said that they intentionally gained 15 lbs for the sole purpose of living longer, frankly. As stated, its probably just due to the increased care and I'm already really proactive about my health care, so I'm just not worried about it.

I don't know that its beneficial or not, to tell people this. I figure that most people want to be a certain weight and it usually doesn't all revolve around just one study, but about what weight is healthy for them or what weight they personally feel that they look good at. I can't imagine most normal people reading one study like this then immediately tacking on 15 lbs to that healthy weight.

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I'm not super worried that people will go out and gain 15 lbs because of this one study. I agree with Melissa that I think most people try to "pick" a weight that feels good and looks good on them, and is maintainable, and it doesn't have that much to do with studies.

wlillie's picture
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I think that people will see this and do what we tend to do. Take the parts that we want to be true and discard the rest. I think they need to be careful how they word the results and be really sure they emphasize that being overweight is not healthy. I think it encourages people to accept something they absolutely can change that would benefit them.

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When I read the article what I took from it was that just because you have a little extra weight over what you should does not automatically make you unhealthy. I can't picture someone at normal weight saying well now I want to gain 15lbs and I don't think it keeps people who do have an extra 15lbs from exercising and dieting if they want to.

ftmom's picture
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The people I see this effecting the most are those, like me, who are trying to lose weight to be healthier. I have been trained to read articles critically and I read that and see 'correlation', not causation (they even say it could be because people lose weight when sick, and I still did some quick searching on what would put me into the 'overweight' category as opposed to normal. I did not change my goal weight, but I can see someone with a less critical view doing so.

So, not that someone would gain weight due to this, but that they wouldn't feel that they needed to lose as much, or any if they are in this category.