BAD NEWS. EVEN BEING JUST A LITTLE OVERWEIGHT INCREASES YOUR RISK OF DEATH.
A few years ago, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were examining research on body fat and concluded that being slightly overweight, but not obese, might actually result in a longer life. For the third of Americans who are overweight, that was likely seen as reassuring news. Hell, it even paved the way for the whole “dad bod” phenomenon. But many in the medical community were skeptical, as the findings relied too heavily on Body Mass Index as the sole indicator of health. You see, your BMI is based on only two measurements—weight and height—not more insightful factors, like muscle mass or location of extra fat on the body.
Now, four years later, the latest research, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, reaffirms that skepticism and finds that being slightly overweight may actually decrease a person’s life span, which is more in line with conventional wisdom about the dangers of gaining weight.
“Our findings confirm that there is no benefit of being overweight on risk of death, and indicate that [being] overweight is actually associated with an increased risk of dying,” head demographer Andrew Stokes told NPR this week. His research actually found a six percent increased risk of death for overweight individuals.
And although Stokes says that six percent “is only a modest increase,” it’s still “extremely worrisome” because so many Americans are overweight. It should also be noted that these findings apply only to those who are overweight—10 to 30 pounds heavier than their ideal weight—not to obese people. There is little debate that people who are obese are at increased risk for diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers and even premature death.
Future research will look at whether overweight people who diet, exercise and lose the excess weight can turn back their risk of disease (and death) to that of an individual who never gained weight in the first place. Here’s hoping, right?