Does being overweight really mean a longer life expectancy?

Yesterday newspaper headlines worldwide claimed that being overweight can extend life rather than shorten it. This and related headlines came from a large review of previous research that found that those categorised as overweight by their BMI were around 6% less likely to have died by the end of a study than those of a healthy weight.
 
However study authors used only Body Mass Index (BMI) as the measure of weight and because BMI is an imperfect measure of body fatness it makes the findings of this study a lot less dramatic as the headlines suggest. BMI does not account for many important weight-related measures linked to death and disease risk such as differing fat levels, fat distribution, muscularity and nutritional balance.
 
An important finding of this study is that being obese (all categories combined) increased the chance of dying compared to those with a normal BMI. This was not the case for overweight individuals or the lowest category of obesity (grade 1) on its own.
 
It is important to consider that individual risk factors for developing disease and death will vary person to person and BMI is only one of many measures used to assess the risk of developing disease in the future.
 
Other measures such as waist circumference offers another way of quickly estimating a person’s body fat levels and whether they are of a healthy weight. safefood recently encouraged adults across the island of Ireland to measure their waist via the campaign ‘Stop the Spread’. For more about ‘Stop the Spread’ and information on how to correctly measure your waist visit the safefood website.
 
Visit the website Weigh2Live for free, independent, practical and achievable weight loss support.
 
Read the full text of the research study in JAMA.
Posted: 03/01/2013 10:13:58 by Emily Kelleher


 

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