Being a Little Overweight Can Add More Years to Your Life

But don't let this news make you lose aim of your weight-loss goals.

Posted: 01/03/2013 12:45 PM EST
Being a Little Overweight Can Add More Years to Your Life

(Photo: Francisco Romero / Getty Images)

Yes, obesity can shed years off our lives and make us more at-risk for diabetes, heart disease, cancers and stroke. But, having a little bit of extra weight isn’t too bad for you, a new study says. Believe it or not, having some extra pounds can lower your risk of dying.

Researchers reviewed more than 100 past studies outlining body mass index (BMI) and death rates and they found that “people who were overweight but not obese were 6 percent less likely to die during the average study period than normal-weight people,” writes TIME.com.

So what’s up with the findings?

Katherine Flegal, a senior research scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and her fellow researchers hypothesize that it could be a range of factors. They claim it could be because overweight and obese Americans receive better medical care or more medical care because of their weight they are screened more often for diseases. (Now, I would argue that while this may be true when looking at the general population, this wouldn’t necessarily speak to the millions of overweight and obese African-Americans and low-income Americans who don’t have insurance and are less likely to be screened for common diseases.)

The researchers also say that being heavier may help those survive better during emergencies and that people who are too thin get sick easier. But the data doesn’t show that some fat in some places can be worse than in others: Fat on the hips and thighs is less dangerous than belly fat.

You don’t have to be super skinny or even “normal” weight to be 100 percent healthy or to live longer. But this doesn’t mean that being 20-30 pounds overweight is great for you either, especially when you look at your family history of diseases. Keep in mind that losing just 10-15 pounds can really lessen your risk for certain diseases, especially if you are overweight.

So be cautious about this news. It’s not an invitation to gorge or lose sight of your weight loss goals.

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