By Dr. Mercola
Provocative new research involving data from nearly 3 million adults suggests that a having an overweight body mass index (BMI) may be linked to a longer life than one that puts you within a “normal” weight range.
The research, which analyzed 97 studies in all, found that people with BMIs under 30 but above normal (the overweight range) had a 6 percent lower risk of dying from all causes than those who were normal weight, while those whose BMIs fell into the obese range were 18 percent more likely to die of any cause.1 The researchers wrote:
“Relative to normal weight … overweight was associated with significantly lower all-cause mortality.”
Do a Few Extra Pounds Make You Healthier?
The study results imply, at least superficially, that carrying some extra weight may help you live longer … or at the very least may not be as unhealthy as it’s made out to be. In a JAMA editorial, Steven Heymsfield, M.D. and William Cefalu, M.D. highlighted this notion:2
“The presence of a wasting disease, heart disease, diabetes, renal dialysis, or older age are all associated with an inverse relationship between BMI and mortality rate, an observation termed the obesity paradox or reverse epidemiology.
The optimal BMI linked with lowest mortality in patients with chronic disease may be within the overweight and obesity range.
Even in the absence of chronic disease, small excess amounts of adipose tissue may provide needed energy reserves during acute catabolic illnesses, have beneficial mechanical effects with some types of traumatic injuries, and convey other salutary effects that need to be investigated in light of the studies … “
Indeed, it is quite possible to be overweight and healthy, just as it’s possible to be normal weight and unhealthy. But for the vast majority of those who carry around extra pounds, health problems will often result.