Rumor: Being overweight may lead to a longer life

Overweight people live longer than those of “normal” weight

UNCONFIRMED: That overweight people live longer


A new study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that those who are considered overweight actually have a lower mortality rate than those who are considered to be normal weight, The Associated Press, CBS News and many other news agencies are reporting.


The study done by Katherine Flegal of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention deals mostly in terms of Body Mass Index. It says people who are considered overweight actually have a 6 percent lower mortality rate than those who are considered to be normal weight. Flegal’s team also published a study in 2005 with similar findings.


"Maybe heavier people present to the doctor earlier, or get screened more often," study author Flegal told HealthDay. "Heavier people may be more likely to be treated according to guidelines, or fat itself may be cardioprotective, or someone who is heavier might be more resilient and better able to stand a shock to their system."


Study under attack

"This is an even greater pile of rubbish" than the 2005 study, Dr. Walter Willett chair of the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health, told The Associated Press. Other experts questioned the study's methodology, noting some of the thinner people included in the research may have had serious diseases that took away their weight, such as cancer, or they may have been smokers.

Dr. David Katz, the director of the Yale University Medical School Prevention Research Center, told HealthDay the study presents complex messages, but he notes that it looked only at death rates, not disease rates, so overweight people may be living sicker.

"It may well be being overweight does increase the risk of such conditions as Type 2 diabetes, or medication use for cardiac risk factors, without increasing mortality," he said.


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