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Put Down That Pizza! But New Study Favors Overweight People

January 7, 2013
Plain English Version

Measured by how many people die in a given period of time, overweight people have a six percent lower risk of death than weight healthy people.

This means that simply being overweight does not lead to death at a faster rate than it does for people with healthy weight. This is true even if overweight people have diabetes, heart conditions and other health problems.

People with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 to 30 are called overweight. They are thirty percent of the U.S. adult population.  The study says they have a 6 percent lower risk of death than people whose BMI is in the normal range of 18.5 to 25.

Obesity is a BMI of 30 or more. The risk of death for obese individuals has not been determined.

Scientists say there are many reasons these BMI findings should be questioned. For example:

  • BMI does not separate fat from muscle mass. Well-conditioned people are healthier than those out-of condition
  • BMI does not say how fat is distributed – belly fat is more dangerous than fat in the buttocks and legs.
  • Fat may give protection if a person has a serious injury. This could result in a lower mortality rate.
  • Extra weight may help people if they cannot eat because of a medical condition.

Experts urge doctors to look at blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, triglycerides and waist size, strength tests, and endurance tests to find health problems.

One doctor said, “The reality is that people who are overweight very often become obese and that is clearly not good.”

The Wall Street Journal


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