Overweight adults may have the lowest mortality: Do they have the best health?

March 8, 2011

While overweight adults die at lower rates than other weight categories, a new study shows that higher body weight was consistently associated with worse health risk profiles.

Anna Zajacova, assistant professor in the University of Wyoming Department of Sociology, led the study published in the . She analyzed a large representative sample of American adults of all ages to determine how relates to health risks, based on specific biological markers.

"In the popular press, the association between being overweight and lower has been generalized to health outcomes, with the implication that carrying extra body weight does not impair health," she says. Zajacova cites a New York Times article that noted "chubby ... may be the new healthy" when reporting on a recent study of (BMI) and mortality.

The previous studies showed that overweight adults die at lower rates than adults who are underweight, normal-weight or obese. This pattern implies that being overweight (based on guidelines established by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute and the World Health Organization) is optimal for health. It contradicts the predominant medical and epidemiological messages that adults should try to keep their weight in the normal range.

"Using an innovative analytic approach, the study found that higher body weight was consistently associated with worse health risk profile," Zajacova says. This association occurred among men and women of all ages and held from the lowest to the highest BMIs.

"Our findings were in direct contrast to the patterns reported between BMI and mortality and indicate that results do not generalize to adult health," Zajacova says. "At least for some biological risk indicators, lower body weight is better."

Explore further: Study examines association between weight amount and cause of death

More information: The journal article can be found at aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/173/4/430.short .

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1 / 5 (1) Mar 08, 2011
I assume that they are trying to say that you are more likely to be afflicted by certain diseases if you are overweight, but that you will still be less likely to die overall.

not rated yet Mar 09, 2011
If they try to say that they are wrong. all types of weight come with it's own set of healthproblems. But in the case of obesity (up to 32 BMI) there are fewer healthproblems then with other weights.

In fact it's more healthy overall to be 100 pounds overweight then 20 pounds underweight. I wrote a sourced piece on this. Since linking here lands you in the garbagecan google: the disease fat does not exist
Which goes into detail.

not rated yet Mar 14, 2011
One thing that has to have an effect on the numbers is that many illnesses will cause weight loss, sometimes quite slowly, before the victim dies.
not rated yet Mar 14, 2011
Bit sweeping statement. That first assumes that the only thing that is registered is weight after death, then states as a fact that 'many' diseases cause weight loss, then assumes that nobody bothered to notice that whilst doing studies.

I don't know but it doesn't pass Occam's razor to my mind.

What is however a fact is that anorexia/bulimia patients have an above average chance to die before their 50's of various diseases, whilst obese people have an average (normal) chance to surpass that age.

1 / 5 (2) Mar 14, 2011
I could care less...

I'll take the 20 pounds underweight than the 100 over EVERY time.

I can't tell you how much better I feel "inside" and out after losing my 75 pounds.
not rated yet Mar 14, 2011
Heroin addicts also feel great inside. They're not so hot on the outside :)
1 / 5 (1) Mar 14, 2011
Heroin addicts also feel great inside. They're not so hot on the outside :)

Obviously you've not met any heroin addicts ;)
not rated yet Mar 15, 2011
Assumption based on facts not in evidence. :)

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