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Overweight People Live Longer

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Old 01-03-2013, 09:35 PM   #1
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Default Overweight People Live Longer

More than one study has come back saying something like this. I think there must be something to it. I think what they are saying is being obese or underweight may put you at a greater risk of death. They aren't saying go pig out even though you have diabetes. They aren't saying you should have a BMI of overweight.

What do you think?



Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) A new study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association supposedly shows that those who are considered overweight actually have a lower mortality rate than those who are considered to be normal weight.

The study done by Katherine Flegal of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention deals mostly in terms of BMI, or Body Mass Index. It claims that people who are considered overweight actually have a six percent lower mortality rate than those who are considered normal weight.

But this data only takes BMI into consideration, which makes some very critical of the findings in this study.

"Body mass index is really not taking into account any of the other factors such as family history, cholesterol, fitness level, anything like that," said Kristina Delviscio, who is certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine and works at Riverwalk Athletic Club.

At first glance the NPR headline of Research: A Little Extra Fat May Help You Live Longer might suggest that it's beneficial to rock those love handles.

"People are going to right away see that, 'Oh, slightly overweight, I'm going to be healthier. And that's the message that is coming across," said Delviscio.

Personal trainer Anthony Campo says this is misleading. Extra fat doesn't equal extra health. But don't confuse gaining weight with gaining fat. According to health experts, adding weight in the form of muscle is very beneficial.

"Putting on lean mass improves many things in your body. Your insulin sensitivity, which can lead to things like better triglycerides, better cholesterol," said Campo.

BMI is a formula that takes into consideration only your height and weight, but no other health factors such as smoking or health problems. Personal trainers say it isn't a good way to measure your overall health. Take Campo for example, an athlete in peak physical condition weighing 200 pounds at ten percent body fat.

"With the BMI with me, I'm actually not even considered overweight, I'm considered obese," said Campo.

With the new year comes many resolutions to be more fit. You should contact your doctor before beginning any kind of training to make sure you are healthy enough to partake in strenuous activities.
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Old 01-03-2013, 09:45 PM   #2
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The data on this, from multiple studies, has been pretty clear.

Overweight people (people with a BMI in the 25-30 range) are less likely to die than people who are normal weight, underweight, or obese. This study doesn't take into account morbidity/quality of life, but the research on death rates is statistically significant.

Interestingly, no research has really ever been done on whether changing your BMI affects your relative death rate. So while we know that someone with an "overweight" BMI is overall less likely to die than someone with a "Normal" BMI, we don't know whether taking someone with a "Normal" BMI and having them gain weight will change their individual chances of death. The flip side, of course, is that we also don't know if taking someone with an "Overweight" BMI and having them lose weight will change those chances. We don't even know if taking someone who is "Obese" and having them lose weigh results in a lower risk of mortality.

These are just population trends, and can't be used to dictate health goals for an individual.
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Old 01-04-2013, 12:16 AM   #3
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Everyone dies. There is no Go spot to get out of that. I think these studies are just an excuse for people who are already looking for a way not to lose weight, to not lose weight.

There are so many reasons to get healthy over staying overweight/obese..besides, studies? Remember when they said eggs would kill you? How about that pesky milk?
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Old 01-04-2013, 12:24 AM   #4
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Obviously, by "Less likely to die", I mean "Less likely to die within a given time period"
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Old 01-04-2013, 12:30 AM   #5
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I know, but people (like I used to do) take these studies and use them as an excuse.

I wonder about BMI..whether they tested people with a high BMI who were overweight because of muscle. Or regular joe who likes to have cheetoes with his starbucks.
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Old 01-04-2013, 12:40 AM   #6
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I don't think it's an "excuse" to challenge the idea that the "Normal" BMI range is best for everyone or even most people, if evidence shows consistently that to have the lowest risk of dying in a particular timeframe, one should have an "overweight" BMI. It sort of calls into question why that range would be considered "overweight" to begin with.

This is not an excuse for not dealing with obesity or morbid obesity, both of which show clear impact on death rates. But this evidence does call into question whether there are health advantages from getting from the "overweight" category into the "normal" category, or only aesthetic advantages for people who prefer a leaner look.

There is some possibility that people who are overweight are better monitored by their physicians for blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, etc, which may result in better health outcomes. But then again, I know quite a few people who are overweight and avoid doctors to avoid lectures, so I'm not sure how real a factor that is.

The study measured a representative sample of people with a particular BMI. So you'd expect to have both artificially high BMIs due to muscle, and artificially low BMIs for the naturally skinny folks who never exercise with bad eating habits, and everyone in between.
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Old 01-04-2013, 12:46 AM   #7
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I avoid my dr like the plague.

Interesting study! Thank you for sharing
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Old 01-04-2013, 12:58 AM   #8
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What I would wonder is why, if mortality is lower, are these folks considered "overweight" in the first place.

"Overweight" was originally determined, not by doctors but by insurance adjusters - based on mortality rates.

We don't know what "optimal weight" really is, or even if there is such a thing. These studies really aren't measuring anything but the likelihood to die soon - and it may be possible that overweight folks don't go out and put themselves at risk for accidents... because they've become stay-at-home couch potatoes.

Then again, maybe they're not dying at a reduced rate because they actually ARE healthier than the other weight classes.... in which case calling them "over weight" is rather silly, because it could indicate that they're actually the "right weight."

This is why I'm not looking for a number in my weight loss at all. I'm looking for the point at which my health stops improving or even declines. I'm going to base my health decisions on more important factors than BMI and a number on the scale.

My diet and weight loss is important to me, only in it improving my health and other aspects of quality of life. If all my health indicators were to go down the toilet with weight loss, I would consider stopping the weight loss. That's not been the case, so I'm pretty sure that I'm accurately assessing my weight as a health risk (of course I'm still quite morbidly obese).

I do have friends who are actually "obese" by BMI, but have little or no fat. One is extremely fit and buff (you can clearly see that he has no excess body fat, because of the clear muscle definition). The other is a woman who is extremely fit. She's overweight according to the scale, but because she's so extremely active, there's far more muscle there than fat. Sure she has a little padding in her hips and bust, but most people would guess her to weight about 40 lbs less than she does - she's that solidly packed with muscle (all the hiking, running, and kickboxing she does, no doubt).

BMI isn't a very good measure for such things, because it doesn't distinguish between folks with high-fat and low-muscle/bone ratios and those who have low-body-fat, high muscle/bone weight ratios.

Most folks aren't going to fit into the "over" weight category because of unusually high fitness levels - but there are going to be some.

I think these studies mean almost nothing, until we know what accounts for the differential death rates. I'd rather live a shorter, better life, than a longer, less functional one. However, I'd also choose fat and life over thin and dead.

I'll just keep making my diet and exercise changes, and I'll stop when I don't see any advantage to continuing. At that point, I'll maintain - whether I'm at goal or not. And if later I want to revise my goals, that's ok too.

There's nothing wrong with deciding that the number on the scale isn't the most important number in the world. In fact, I've only had success with weight loss since giving up on the scale as the best measure of success. I'm not doing all this work to look great, I'm doing it to feel better and get my health back.

Because I'm not doing it FOR WEIGHT, I don't get discouraged when the weight loss stalls - because that's not why I'm doing this. I wouldn't use the scale as a measure at all, if it weren't one of the easiest measurements of success (and of course a side benefit of wearing less expensive, cuter clothing is in the mix a little bit - but it's certainly not on my top ten).
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Old 01-04-2013, 01:06 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by owlsteazombies View Post
I know, but people (like I used to do) take these studies and use them as an excuse.

I wonder about BMI..whether they tested people with a high BMI who were overweight because of muscle. Or regular joe who likes to have cheetoes with his starbucks.
See thats something that drives me nuts. Whenever a study like this comes out someone not you but in general someone says something like well BMI is useless look at this picture of a bodybuilder there BMI is like 31 and theyre not obese.
Well, if I go to the mall the number of bodybuilders with high BMIs is pretty low and the number of people with obvious weight issues is pretty high.
I think BMI is a great indicator for doctors to do further tests like waist size and stuff but it drives me nuts whenever BMI is mentioned the case of the 1 in a 100,000 bodybuilder is used to justify why BMI doesnt work. If your a 50 yr old woman and you are 5 ft 2 and weigh 300 lbs it isnt about how much muscle you have.
Ok Im done...
As for living longer I think that overweight BMIers will live longer but what isnt discussed is quality of life. I think people should look at quality of life more than death rates personally and thats gotta be the motivating factor. Id rather live to 82 at a regular BMI no health issues than 87 as a diabetic with amputated legs since the age of 55. I also think the reason they live longer is that if you are regular BMI youll be passed over by the doctor as in "well your weight is fine you look fine your good this year". Higher BMI patients get the bloodwork and tests to make sure stuff is ok and thats when issues are found and treated. Also another thing is that when older people fall down they break bones and thats a major reason why they die. Its a fact that if you have more padding your less likely to break something so you wont be at risk of blood clots and infection at an older age.
Lots of factors, and even if its significant with respect to the stats I dont think anyone should try to gain weight to live longer. Its gotta be about quality of life I think.

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Old 01-04-2013, 01:31 AM   #10
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Id rather live to 82 at a regular BMI no health issues than 87 as a diabetic with amputated legs since the age of 55.
It's an awfully big jump from "mild overweight" to "diabetic with amputated legs". Type 2 Diabetes is a definite risk of obesity or morbid obesity, but the rates in the population that is overweight aren't significantly higher than in the population with a "normal" BMI. And if you're moderately overweight with diabetes, you're less likely to die from it than if you're "normal" weight.

I'm not saying there aren't aesthetic reasons one might want to go from "overweight" to "normal" on the BMI scale. But there is significant evidence mounting that it doesn't do all that much for mortality.
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Old 01-04-2013, 02:08 AM   #11
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Not buying this, just can't. Had an overweight uncle who died from a sudden heart attack in his sleep in his 50's and an overweight aunt who died from diabetes also in her 50's while my grandparents are at a normal weight and are alive in their 80's, not in perfect health but they are old. It seems there's always some odd contradicting research that shows being healthy is actually not healthy. I agree though BMI is just a rough guide that measures mass against height but doesn't measures health so nothing really can guarantee that you'll live longer.
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Old 01-04-2013, 05:32 AM   #12
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Let me just say that I don't like to gamble... So what I'll take away from this is that there MIGHT be a possibility that being overweight MIGHT offer me some sort of advantage in MAYBE living SLIGHTLY longer when I'm OLDER or SICK or BOTH... which to me don't seem like odds that I want to play...

Now if someone can be overweight, perfectly healthy and happy... than more power to them... I was not one of them... for me just being "overweight" was having very real effects on my health that certainly would have led to negative consequences... for me, going from just an overweight BMI to a normal BMI made a big difference in all of my numbers and a real difference in reducing my risk factors for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke... which we all know are some of the leading causes of shortening one's lifespan, not to mention the effects that they have on a persons quality of life...

So for me and a lot of other overweight people in similar situations with health issues that could be improved by losing weight... you are sort of in a "Dammed if you do, dammed if you don't" position on this one... But for me at least, I know I made the right bet here...
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Old 01-04-2013, 06:26 AM   #13
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.. for me, going from just an overweight BMI to a normal BMI made a big difference in all of my numbers and a real difference in reducing my risk factors for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke... which we all know are some of the leading causes of shortening one's lifespan, not to mention the effects that they have on a persons quality of life...
I know, even with this study I plan on being below overweight. I am currently BMI of 25.7. I want to get down about 15 lbs more. But that is not to say it isn't something to keep in mind. The key is imho not to overreact. It is a piece of information. Obviously it is not good to have a BMI of 30 and have diabetes. But for someone like me who has none of those risk factors -- good blood sugar, good heart numbers etc... it is just one more factor to consider.

As to why it might be true, there are tons of theories. Someone said one I thought made a lot of sense. That the more fat you have on you -- especially as an elder, the less chance of breaking something if you fall. And since hip fracture is a particularly bad thing -- well this works. If that turned out to be a big factor pushing it ... you could see how this might be more valuable only as you got older.

I actually think this will turn out to be important only for those over 60. Lots of diseases have been linked to loss of muscle mass in the elderly so that could line up with lower BMI.
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Old 01-04-2013, 07:00 AM   #14
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I think a lot of us are lumping "overweight" with "obese" when looking at this article. Remember that medically, overweight is a BMI of 25 to 30 regardless of what our eyes tell us (and our eyes would normally place these "overweight" people at a normal weight).

Let's also not forget that in the US in 1998, the definition of overweight was changed! Before, one was normal weight if they had a BMI of less than 27; moving that down to 25 effectively made millions overweight without them changing anything. The numbers are pretty arbitrary in that respect and can be changed when population information is gathered.

BMI may be a poor measure for some, but when the general population is taken into account it is a quick way to process information. Athletes and the super fit should know that they shouldn't pay attention to it, while a regular person should know that an athlete and/or super fit person is on another level than a regular person. Most people will not put on enough muscle to push them into the overweight or obese category, so throwing out an example of a bodybuilder that falls outside of the BMI ranges is kind of silly.

I guess, as with anything, YMMV. I don't know if staying overweight would be good for me in the long run because diabetes runs on both sides of my family. I'll probably still get it at some point, but I'm hoping maintaining a lower weight will push it off as long as possible.
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Old 01-04-2013, 08:59 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by sontaikle View Post
I think a lot of us are lumping "overweight" with "obese" when looking at this article. Remember that medically, overweight is a BMI of 25 to 30 regardless of what our eyes tell us (and our eyes would normally place these "overweight" people at a normal weight).

Let's also not forget that in the US in 1998, the definition of overweight was changed! Before, one was normal weight if they had a BMI of less than 27; moving that down to 25 effectively made millions overweight without them changing anything. The numbers are pretty arbitrary in that respect and can be changed when population information is gathered...

I agree that this and other issues are clouding the issue. The mildly overweight class, by the way, that we're talking about is one in which women still look good in a bikini. Wonder WOman, Xena Warrior princess and Hot Donna on the 70's show. We're not talking about people who LOOK overweight, we're talking about folks who are considered of normal and even attractive appearance.


This topic has come up several times on 3FC before, because the research finding that MILDLY overweight folks live the longest and others that find advantages to being MILDLY overweight is nothing new.

One thing to keep in mind is that the people these studies are finding these advantages in, are people that most folks in the USA would not consider overweight at all.

The studies aren't finding that obesity is healthy, they're finding that having a few (and only a few - not 20, not 30, not 100) extra pounds MAY not be such a terrible thing.

These studies that find SOME health advantages to be MILDLY overweight (and again these are people who look overweight only when compared to runway models).

Most folks in the USA have a skewed view of body weight. We're so used to seeing overweight people that we underestimate where the line between healthy and overweight lies (as defined by BMI by the doctors and researchers).

We consider overweight folks to be at a healthy weight, obese folks to be overweight, morbidly overweight folks to be overweight or barely obese.

For example, at 5'6" (I used to be 5'7")

Overweight would be 155 lbs

Obese would be at 186 lbs

Morbidly obese at 217


In the USA (and there are statistics showing this as well) most folks misjudge these weight classifications significantly, and in most cases UNDERESTIMATE the weight class. So when most of us talk about overweight relatives with diabetes and other weight-related or weight-exacerbated illnesses, we're really talking about severely overewight, obese or even morbidly obese relatives.


These studies are saying that having an extra 5 or 10 lbs probably isn't all that dangerous (especially for women if most of that extra weight is above or below the waist), and that there is little to no advantage in being underweight.

What the studies really are saying is that you may not be able to be too rich, but you CAN be too thin.

I also think that people tend to think in terms of "if a little is good, a whole truckload is better." So if being thin is healthy, being skeletal must be even better.

I mean it's ridiculous to me to say that these statistics encourage people to dismiss weight as a health concern entirely. I mean this research doesn't indicate anything at all like that. It's saying that being 5 lbs overweight (and overweight by the BMI charts, not by perception - these are folks that even naked most of us wouldn't consider really overweight at all) may not be as unhealthy as being more significantly underweight or overweight.

To be honest though, I don't think any of this particular research means anything at all, because we don't know what's behind the statistic. It makes MUCH MORE sense to use more specific health indicators for ourselves. Get a checkup once a year (or more if you have specific health issues) and judge your habits (diet, exercise...) and weight by your test results.
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