Many people rejoiced when US researchers reported the unexpected news that being overweight could in fact prolong life. Announcing their findings on the first day of the New Year meant many people ditched their resolutions to lose weight, but is this wise?
UK experts have already tried to pour cold water on the findings, an act that was predicted by the author of the study, Katherine Flegal.
Dr Flegal and her team from the National Centre for Health Statistics in Maryland reviewed nearly 100 studies looking at the link between weight and mortality. Their findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and showed that those who were overweight and those who were mildly obese had a 5-6% lower chance of dying prematurely than those at a ‘normal weight’.
The studies all used Body Mass Index readings to decipher weights of the participants, but according to Professor Nick Finer (of University College Hospital), the BMI reading is an ‘imperfect measure’ as it depends on other factors including cholesterol and blood pressure. Professor Stephen O’Rahilly of the University of Cambridge Metabolic Research Laboratories has also said, “The lack of adverse effects on mortality of mild obesity and the apparent slight reduction in death rate should not be taken to mean that such states are not likely to be harmful to health.”
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