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Being Slightly Overweight May Lead To Longer Life

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the good-news-for-geeks dept.

Medicine 383

Hugh Pickens writes "Findings of a new study show that underweight people and those who are extremely obese die earlier than people of normal weight — but those who are only a little overweight actually live longer than people of normal weight. 'It's not surprising that extreme underweight and extreme obesity increase the risk of dying, but it is surprising that carrying a little extra weight may give people a longevity advantage,' said one of the coauthors of the study. 'It may be that a few extra pounds actually protect older people as their health declines, but that doesn't mean that people in the normal weight range should try to put on a few pounds.' The study examined the relationship between body mass index and death among 11,326 adults in Canada over a 12-year period. The study showed that underweight people were 70 percent more likely than people of normal weight to die, and extremely obese people were 36 percent more likely to die. But overweight individuals defined as a body mass index of 25 to 29.9 were 17 percent less likely to die than people of a normal weight defined as a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9. The relative risk for obese people was nearly the same as for people of normal weight. The authors controlled for factors such as age, sex, physical activity, and smoking. 'Overweight may not be the problem we thought it was,' said Dr. David H. Feeny, a senior investigator at Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research. 'Overweight was protective.'"

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But it's in CANADA (1, Insightful)

gbulmash (688770) | more than 5 years ago | (#28518543)

Wow, that makes me feel better about the batch of chocolate cheese [brainhandles.com] I whipped up this weekend and the fact that later in the week, I'm going to experiment with substituting it for ganache in a chocolate truffle recipe.

Of course, the study took place in Canada. Skinny, underweight people dying faster in the cold of Canada just seems like a no brainer. I'd like to see the study replicated in the tropics to see if the numbers stand up somewhere that extra insulation doesn't help as much.

Based on the study, I need to lose 24 more pounds [drop100pounds.com] to get my BMI into the 25-29.9 range that had the highest longevity and I'm currently in the same longevity range as normal weight people. Woo hoo.

Re:But it's in CANADA (1)

McNihil (612243) | more than 5 years ago | (#28518877)

I dare you to make a "400 pounder" get down to the tropics for that longevity test :-D

And yup... I would not want to be too skinny up here in Canada... when it gets cold... its friggin COLD... and I am pretty far south... I wouldn't survive Edmonton for instance.

Re:But it's in CANADA (1)

0racle (667029) | more than 5 years ago | (#28519119)

Now, I know it's not en vogue to point this out, but they do have central heating and cars in Canada. You'd be ok.

Re:But it's in CANADA (4, Funny)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 5 years ago | (#28519247)

The ignorance of some humor is just shocking!

Of course Canadians have cars and central heating. How else would they get to and stay warm in their yurts? Although the heating is a tricky business for those who live in igloos, but they're just a smaller portion of the population. Only about 35% or so.

Re:But it's in CANADA (1)

scubamage (727538) | more than 5 years ago | (#28519291)

Like real Canadians use central heating. Everyone knows when it gets cold you just cuddle up to the nearest moose.

Re:But it's in CANADA (5, Funny)

davester666 (731373) | more than 5 years ago | (#28519131)

It's not that bad. The igloo I grew up in, in Edmonton, worked pretty good at insulating us against the cold.

I remember coming in off the ice-flow, after spending the day hunting sea-lions for food and fuel-oil, the igloo was so warm I had to pretty much strip off all my clothing.

But now that I've moved to Vancouver, where we've got these new-fangled things called 'houses', I find that I'm expected to remain mostly clothed both indoors and out. And my snowmobile only is useful a couple days a year.

Re:But it's in CANADA (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28518883)

"70 percent more likely than people of normal weight to die" did they also find the fountain of youth? I'm pretty sure that humans have a 99.9999% chance of dying taking into account the humans currently alive who still have a chance of finding that fountain of youth. Its not the destination its the trip that truly matters.

Amazing discovery in Canada (1)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 5 years ago | (#28519285)

"70 percent more likely than people of normal weight to die" did they also find the fountain of youth?

It's the other way around: they found the fountain of zombies, and it's apparently in Canada!
Normal people have a 100% chance of dying (obviously), so these poor saps must have a 170% chance of dying. On average, therefore, they will die 1.7 times each. Damn Canadian zombies.

BMI Is not a Good Measure (5, Insightful)

MarkPNeyer (729607) | more than 5 years ago | (#28518559)

Someone with a high BMI might be overweight - or they might be in really good shape and have lots of muscle. Just something to think about.

bullshit measuring index (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28518631)

bringing the health industry profits since 1830

Re:BMI Is not a Good Measure (3, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#28518651)

BMI is a heuristic. If you follow it slavishly, you'll paint yourself into a corner case.

However, given the current Body Builder/All American Lardass ratio, and the fact that BMI's failure in high muscle scenarios isn't exactly a secret, I suspect we'll muddle through somehow. It is a pity that more precise measurements aren't cheaper to make.

Re:BMI Is not a Good Measure (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28518927)

BMI is just stupid. It is based [famousbelgians.net] on the chest size of the 1800's Scottish army and the height of an average French conscript.

If you are a Scotsman who was drafted into the French army, it might just apply to you, though.

Re:BMI Is not a Good Measure (4, Interesting)

MrCrassic (994046) | more than 5 years ago | (#28519025)

Body fat calculators are free, and correlate body weight to body type significantly better than BMI does.

Re:BMI Is not a Good Measure (1)

mdarksbane (587589) | more than 5 years ago | (#28519151)

Except for do have easy to measure heuristics that are significantly more reasonable.

Even taking BMI and correcting it for waist size goes a long way into taking muscle mass into account.

Re:BMI Is not a Good Measure (5, Informative)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 5 years ago | (#28518689)

Agreed. I was 10 pounds over my "ideal range" five years ago. But I was lean and had decent upper body muscle from doing a lot of construction work. After ending that, I made a conscious choice to drop those ten pounds since I knew I would not be keeping the muscle. So, I became "ideal weight" even though I was in worse shape physically. Since then I have put on those 10 pounds (mid-age metabolism slow down). So according to the chart, I am in the same place I was five years ago.

BMI is a nice quick rule-of-thumb, but the better test is to see how long it takes for you to get winded running at a moderate pace.

(and thanks Slashdot for the five minute wait between posts)

Re:BMI Is not a Good Measure (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#28518839)

BMI is a nice quick rule-of-thumb, but the better test is to see how long it takes for you to get winded running at a moderate pace.

For testing health? Bah. Better test would be to see how long it takes you to get winded screwing at a medium pace.

Besides, I'm not as concerned about my health in re: longevity. What's important is my evolutionary health.

And I can pretty much guarantee that I'll have many more chances to sire crotch potatoes on random women if I'm at the "ideal" weight instead of "slightly obese".

Re:BMI Is not a Good Measure (5, Funny)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 5 years ago | (#28519217)

Better test would be to see how long it takes you to get winded screwing at a medium pace.

Are we talking Torx, phillips, flathead, or something else? I know I get breathless just thinking about it...

Re:BMI Is not a Good Measure (1)

Calithulu (1487963) | more than 5 years ago | (#28519275)

For testing health? Bah. Better test would be to see how long it takes you to get winded screwing at a medium pace.

Is two hours good or bad? I don't have any index to compare the measurement to!

Re:BMI Is not a Good Measure (1)

MrCrassic (994046) | more than 5 years ago | (#28519065)

BMI is a nice quick rule-of-thumb, but the better test is to see how long it takes for you to get winded running at a moderate pace.

This is a little contentious, since there are different ways of being "fit." For instance, many cyclists, even at the professional level, make pretty bad runners, and vice versa.

Aren't there all-around fitness tests that gauge this metric more accurately?

Re:BMI Is not a Good Measure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28518833)

Exactly. BMI is HORRIBLE for determining anything. It says nothing of composition.

Ever since I started lifting weights 10 years ago, I went from underweight to obese on the BMI scale..

Re:BMI Is not a Good Measure (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 5 years ago | (#28518925)

Ever since I started lifting weights 10 years ago, I went from underweight to obese on the BMI scale..

Problem is, your weight lifting program is the twelve ounce curl.

Re:BMI Is not a Good Measure (0, Redundant)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 5 years ago | (#28518873)

There are many good reasons to be skeptical of BMI (such as the fact that it basically ignores the fact that human bodies are, you know, three-dimensional) but I don't really think this is one of them. Are there people who are "overweight" solely because they have lots of muscle? Sure. But there aren't really that many of them; most people have to work out two or three hours a day to get that kind of muscle. There are a hell of a lot more people telling themselves, "I'm a big guy" (men) or "I'm curvy" (women) as a way of not acknowledging how out of shape they are.

Re:BMI Is not a Good Measure (4, Insightful)

piojo (995934) | more than 5 years ago | (#28518879)

I wish they had analyzed body fat percentage, in addition to BMI. The two numbers together could yield much more specific information.

Re:BMI Is not a Good Measure (1)

Slightly Askew (638918) | more than 5 years ago | (#28519033)

I think the best example I read of this was that Michael Jordan was considered obese according to his BMI number. No surprise someone with his level of fitness would live longer.

Something else to think about. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28519081)

Someone with a high BMI might be overweight - or they might be in really good shape and have lots of muscle.

Just something to think about.

That's true. I'm in that category but only 5 lbs and with my doctor's input. Meaning, My ideal weight shouldn't be over 151, and she thinks that I should be more like 156ish - being within the charts was a little too lean for me.

OTH, I can't tell you how many guys I know with big guts who say that these studies prove that there's nothing wrong with them.

A little knowledge ...

Re:BMI Is not a Good Measure (1)

Calithulu (1487963) | more than 5 years ago | (#28519235)

That is a really, really good point. BMI is meant to be used as a tool to measure populations, not to be used to measure individuals. Body fat percentage and muscle mass percentages are far better tools to use for yourself to determine if you have a healthy weight or not. Sadly, due to psychological hang-ups a lot of people can't just look into the mirror to make that determination. However, since this study was done using statistics from a broad portion of the population it is quite likely that not everyone who was "overweight" according to their BMI was an athlete.

+1 (1)

relguj9 (1313593) | more than 5 years ago | (#28519251)

BMI is completely inaccurate. I'm been overweight according to BMI for the past 15 years, if I drop closer to the "normal" rating, people start asking if I'm sick or not eating enough. If I was my "perfect BMI" weight, I'd be unhealthily scrawny. As someone said above "bullshit measuring index."

If you do any kind of regular exercise for a long period of time, you may as well throw BMI out the window.

Re:+1 (1)

relguj9 (1313593) | more than 5 years ago | (#28519313)

Basically, those that are in the "overweight" range are more likely to be the ones that regularly exercise and eat normal amounts of reasonably balanced diets, hence drastically increasing their life expectance... duh?

Correlation =/= Causation. (1, Redundant)

Gerafix (1028986) | more than 5 years ago | (#28518577)

Or it could be that people of normal weight were more inclined to be involved in activities that required you to get off your ass. I bet you're more likely to die if you leave your computer chair. As long as you had food, water, and pr0n you could live forever on your computer chair.

Re:Correlation =/= Causation. (1)

vidnet (580068) | more than 5 years ago | (#28518909)

Indeed. This study was about mortality rates in adults over 12 years. If you're under 50, sitting on your ass all day is extremely safe.
When you're 80+, being overweight could just mean you're not currently wasting away from cancer or some other illness.

Re:Correlation =/= Causation. (1)

matt4077 (581118) | more than 5 years ago | (#28519017)

I have to correct myself: Gerafix has no chance at today's stupidity prize. You win. "Over a 12-year-period" obviously means they're talking about people in or after puberty. It could never be that these scientists had thought about the best group to test, or to test for a long time, say a "12-year period", and then "correct for age".

Re:Correlation =/= Causation. (4, Insightful)

matt4077 (581118) | more than 5 years ago | (#28518911)

I'm sure you're feeling really smart now, having repeated the endless slashdot correlation does not prove causation meme. It's so great that every 14 year old slashdotter seems to know more about statistics than scientists do.

You're even closer to your "best of slashdot" award by not even reading the summary, or not knowing what "corrected for physical activity" means. But beware: the hundreds of "BMI is stupid because I'm not fat/It's all muscle/my bones are heavy" commenters are on your heels. It's surprising that there's not a single really overweight person commenting here, considering that 90% of overweight (by BMI) are simply fat. But maybe, just maybe, all the geeks here are secret superheros.

Re:Correlation =/= Causation. (1, Offtopic)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 5 years ago | (#28519095)

OP could have made it even better by demonstrating that in addition to knowing more about statistics than statisticians, he also knows more about climate change than climatologists, more about string theory than physicists, and more about evolution than biologists. Spelling out Obama's full name and giving a detailed explanation about types of birth certificates would have been good for bonus points, along with a complaint about the PC liberal media, and of course he could have made the whole thing perfect by leading with, "I know I'll get modded down for this, but ..."

Re:Correlation =/= Causation. (5, Interesting)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#28519003)

As long as you had food, water, and pr0n you could live forever on your computer chair.

Yeah, if you like bedsores [wikipedia.org] on your ass!

There aren't enough details to decide but I could understand how being slightly overweight could be beneficial to women in particular. There's a reason why women like these [citizenarcane.com] and this [wikimedia.org] were considered the most attractive in antiquity. Chubby is coming back in style ;)

Even today many guys like me prefer chubby women - they're softer to cuddle with, they tend to have bigger and more plump breasts, they're curvature is accentuated and their plumpness makes them look "cuter", they're better-equipped to have healthy babies, and (in my experience) they have more orgasms. The homos out there are aware of the popularity of "bears".

I'm glad that the starving, anorexic "heroin-chic" fad is going out the door. One can be fit and comfortable without having to go hungry or be unattractively obese. Vanity, like eating, is unattractive in excess.

Re:Correlation =/= Causation. (4, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28519143)

You're being a bit flame-batish, but I do have to agree. The "fashion industry" (or rather what a bunch of homosexual men and weird women) promotes a form of female beauty that's largely at odds with the ideal as found throughout most of human history.

A few months ago my wife and I were watching Some Like It Hot, and during the scene where Marilyn Munroe sings, my wife commented that according to modern fashions, she would be considered overweight, if not outright fat. It struck me right there that here is one of the most sensual women of the modern era in one of the sexiest scenes ever to be found in the movies (all praise Billy Wilder with putting up with her to make this film), and a pack of queers and freeky fashionistas have programmed into so many that having some seventeen year old girl with the figure of an eight year old boy is superior to the greatest sex goddess of modern times.

So, from all the guys who secretly fantasize about the golden age of Hollywood sexpots, here's a big "fuck you" to the fashion industry, truly the most perverse and vile aspect of modern media around.

Okay, noob question time (5, Insightful)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 5 years ago | (#28518585)

Then let me ask this. If slightly overweight seems to be healthy, then how was the "ideal" weight range determined?

Re:Okay, noob question time (4, Insightful)

NevarMore (248971) | more than 5 years ago | (#28518757)

Welcome to science, things change based on new information.

We get a hypothesis, test it, and if it tests out we have a generally accepted theory. That theory is subject to change, someone reads its comes up with a new hypothesis and runs some more tests.

I can't answer your question specifically, but what probably happened was that the ideal range was determined based on information available at the time. Now there is new info.

There's an even chance that this will either shift the ideal range of BMI or place more emphasis on factors other than BMI. Maybe both.

Re:Okay, noob question time (4, Interesting)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 5 years ago | (#28518809)

Welcome to science, things change based on new information.

We get a hypothesis, test it, and if it tests out we have a generally accepted theory. That theory is subject to change, someone reads its comes up with a new hypothesis and runs some more tests.

The problem is that folks are making life-changing decisions based on these theories. Doctors yell at us. TV "educates" us about what is acceptable. Then, something new comes along and says 'forget all that stuff, do this instead'. Doesn't take long before folks tune it out altogether.

For me, it was salt. Loved it. The more the better. Then I read about how bad it is for your heart. So I cut it out dramatically. Then a couple years later, I read about how it isn't very bad at all, unless you already have a heart condition, or family history. So basically I got duped into giving up something I enjoyed. Makes me more skeptical about the next scientific finding about my diet.

Re:Okay, noob question time (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28519101)

Heh, I just want to point out that without salt you would be dead. Back before it was easily available (which actually wasn't that long ago) salt was worth more than gold.

Salt is one of those things that has to be "just right". Not too much and not too little. The amount needed is different for everyone. Depends on how much you sweat, what you eat, your other electrolyte levels, if you are sick (fluid loss), etc. Tons of variables.

Personally I have to make sure I get enough salt, not too much. I make all my own food and have to make a conscious effort to add a little more salt than I would like. I have first hand experience of what happens when you don't get enough and it's very unpleasant.

Re:Okay, noob question time (5, Insightful)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 5 years ago | (#28519109)

You're making the common mistake of confusing 'media hysterics' with 'actual science'.

Re:Okay, noob question time (1)

JoeRandomHacker (983775) | more than 5 years ago | (#28519267)

You're making the common mistake of confusing 'media hysterics' with 'actual science'.

Yes, but without personal insights into the science involved, how is one supposed to tell the difference?

Re:Okay, noob question time (2, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 5 years ago | (#28519249)

For me, it was salt. Loved it. The more the better. Then I read about how bad it is for your heart. So I cut it out dramatically. Then a couple years later, I read about how it isn't very bad at all, unless you already have a heart condition, or family history. So basically I got duped into giving up something I enjoyed. Makes me more skeptical about the next scientific finding about my diet.

You have a point about the sort of science-reporting that media outlets engage in. One year, coffee is bad for you and eggs are good. 2 years later, coffee is good for your and eggs are bad. A year after that, coffee and eggs are both good for you.

But a fair amount of that isn't the fault of science, it's the fault of reporters. The truth is, things are rarely "good" or "bad", at least not completely and in all situations. Take your example of salt-- the science behind it really hasn't changed that much, as far as I know. Salt is definitely good for you up to a point. You can get sick or even die of a sodium deficiency. Too much of it is bad for you though. This isn't unique to salt; you also need water to survive, but even with water there's such a thing as "too much". It's possible to consume so much water that it becomes toxic and kills you.

Now the "safe range" for salt isn't the same in everyone, but because of how much salt is in most pre-prepared foods (including restaurants, frozen foods, etc.) most of us are already consuming more than we should. It's not as dangerous as it seemed when the dangers were at their most over-hyped, but eating excessive amounts of salt still isn't good for you. It's just that, as with many things that are fairly bad for you, you can probably get away with indulging until you start experiencing adverse side-effects.

Re:Okay, noob question time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28519269)

And I JUST read a lengthy article about being underweight dramatically prolonging your life.

I swear these people are all full of shit.

Re:Okay, noob question time (2, Informative)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#28518773)

There is no ideal weight range, only idea percentage of body fat.

Re:Okay, noob question time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28518791)

Ideal in this case means the least appalling to the opposite sex. Duh.

Re:Okay, noob question time (3, Insightful)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 5 years ago | (#28518999)

I'm not sure how it was determined, but I do know that my "ideal weight" (according to BMI) isn't my real ideal weight. A few years back, I seriously worked hard to lose weight. I went from 255 down to 173. At my height (5' 11"), BMI says that my ideal weight is 133 - 178.5. However, when I dropped below 180, people started telling me how I looked *too skinny.* (The first time I've been called that ever in my life.) Sure enough, my bones were showing way too much in my shoulders and face. So I intentionally put some weight back on. I determined that my ideal weight is about 185 - 190 so that's what I shoot for every time the pounds sneak back on*. According to BMI, I'm overweight, but I feel that I'm perfect weight-wise when I'm in that range.

*Fighting my weight is going to be a lifelong battle. I'm on the path to healthy eating, but old habits can sneak back into my life all too easily. I just need to recognize when they're beginning to do so and nip the weight gain in the bud.

Re:Okay, noob question time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28519177)

Ideal weight is pinned at Chuck Norris' weight. Noob.

Muscle Weighs more than Fat (1)

hardburn (141468) | more than 5 years ago | (#28518589)

BMI doesn't take into account fat vs muscle. It's also pretty hard to be in the obese range of BMI with a low bodyfat percentage (possible, I'm sure, but very difficult without drugs). Perhaps the effect they're actually seeing is a few well-built people throwing the average off for the overweight range.

Re:Muscle Weighs more than Fat (2, Informative)

JorDan Clock (664877) | more than 5 years ago | (#28518939)

BMI also assumes your height is what you "should" be. I have scoliosis to a fair degree, so I'm about and inch or two shorter than I would be without it. How does this skew my BMI results? Some quick checks with online BMI calculators shows that adding one inch removes almost a point from my BMI. Which number is more accurate?

I'm not going to say BMI is a horrible thing, but as a critical data point in a study like this it is far too inaccurate. Body fat percentage seems like a much better factor.

Results don't surprise me. (4, Insightful)

Dog-Cow (21281) | more than 5 years ago | (#28518595)

Sounds to me like the definition of "over-weight" is based on appearance instead of health.

Re:Results don't surprise me. (2, Interesting)

jeffliott (1558799) | more than 5 years ago | (#28518687)

As stupid as you make it sound, there is a reason trusting appearance might be better: millions of years of evolution.

Re:Results don't surprise me. (1)

RobinH (124750) | more than 5 years ago | (#28518789)

Following that logic, people that look better just possess some quality that makes them more successful at reproducing offspring that themselves reproduce. Which is kind of a circular argument, but you get my point.

Living longer than it takes to raise your children to the point where they can raise their children would be pointless from an evolutionary standpoint.

Re:Results don't surprise me. (2, Insightful)

JorDan Clock (664877) | more than 5 years ago | (#28518951)

Living longer than it takes to raise your children to the point where they can raise their children would be pointless from an evolutionary standpoint.

Naturally, humans don't live longer than it takes to raise offspring. It is our medicine and technology that enables us to do so.

Re:Results don't surprise me. (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 5 years ago | (#28518837)

Depends on what you trust it for... Evolution's motto is "live fast and die young (right after you procreate and get your kids kicked out of the house)". Optimizing longevity could very well run counter to the forces that have driven evolution in the past.

Re:Results don't surprise me. (1)

jeffliott (1558799) | more than 5 years ago | (#28519245)

I totally agree. The supposition I was trying to make that perhaps our evolution may have given us fine-tuned perception of health just by our natural instincts. However, since evolution is a "good-enough" type of solution, it would make sense that our perceptions would provide a "good-enough" result.

Re:Results don't surprise me. (1)

nametaken (610866) | more than 5 years ago | (#28519287)

Yeah but it wasn't that long ago that women who are overweight now were once what was pretty. I'm honestly not sure what evolution tells me and what I was raised to admire.

Which one is it? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28518605)

More calories or less?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calorie_restriction [wikipedia.org]

Re:Which one is it? (3, Interesting)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 5 years ago | (#28518775)

More calories or less?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calorie_restriction [wikipedia.org]

Calorie restriction refers to calories of food energy absorbed per day (rate of energy in). "Overweight" refers to accumulate body mass, in the form of fat (accumulation). You use fat at a rate determined by your physiology and physical activity (rate of energy out).

rate of energy in - rate of energy out = rate of accumulation

You can be fat and eat very few calories, or skinny and eat a lot of calories. If your rate in is equal to your rate out, you'll maintain your current weight, whatever that might be.

The study in TFA, however, is probably misleading to most of us because it's a critique of BMI, which only measures weight, not fat content. I know people who are very fit, not crazy body builders, and still considered overweight via BMI because they have too much muscle and not enough fat to match the index's expectations.

This is great news... (4, Funny)

jeffliott (1558799) | more than 5 years ago | (#28518607)

Now I have an excuse to not lose those "extra pounds" my wife has been complaining about!

Re:This is great news... (1)

SupremoMan (912191) | more than 5 years ago | (#28519061)

Yeah. Just whatever you do, don't complain about your wife's "extra pounds." Unless your sofa is very comfortable of course.

On top of my head (0)

Arthur B. (806360) | more than 5 years ago | (#28518623)

Possible explanation,

There are three kind of people, normal eaters, under eaters and over eaters. Left unchecked, the first will become dangerously underweight, the second will remain normal, the third will become obese. Being slightly overweight may mean that one has a tendency to over eat but is concerned enough with one's health that one overcomes it. Therefore, the slightly overweight people are just health-conscious would be obese.

Lies lies and statistics? (1)

vivaelamor (1418031) | more than 5 years ago | (#28518627)

Depends on whether they factor in types of death, are 'ideal' weight people more likely to die while doing extreme sports?

Perceptive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28518629)

I'm always ahead. Been doing that for years.

/.ers rejoice. (1)

grub (11606) | more than 5 years ago | (#28518639)


Now if they come out with a study showing the radon gas in parents' basements make you live longer, we'll be an indestructable force!

.

Re:/.ers rejoice. (1)

siriuskase (679431) | more than 5 years ago | (#28518779)

It is a fact that basement dwellers don't die of skin cancer, or run down by cars or motorcycles either.

Re:/.ers rejoice. (2, Funny)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28518867)

And STDs are also incredibly rare too!

First they came... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28518661)

They came first for the smokers, And I didnâ(TM)t speak up because I wasnâ(TM)t a smoker;

And then they came for the under weight, And I didnâ(TM)t speak up because I wasnâ(TM)t under weight;

And then they came for the obese, And I didnâ(TM)t speak up because I wasnâ(TM)t obese;

And then... they came for me... And by that time there was no one left to speak up.

more likely to die! (1)

.orvp (208389) | more than 5 years ago | (#28518663)

The study showed that underweight people were 70 percent more likely than people of normal weight to die, and extremely obese people were 36 percent more likely to die.

Wait... I'm confused... how is an underweight person 70 percent more likely to die than 100% of people dying. This... does not add up!

Or perhaps it is better to be extremely obese so as to have a higher chance of being immortal than skinny people?

Re:more likely to die! (2, Informative)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 5 years ago | (#28518969)

That kind of survival statistic is always measured within some specified period of time, usually a year for this kind of study. So if, say, the annual death rate is 100 per 10,000 for people of normal weight (just pulling the number off the top of my head here), 170 per 10,000 for underweight people, and 136 per 10,000 for obese people, then the statement is correct.

No survivors (1)

ReinisFMF (893095) | more than 5 years ago | (#28518713)

I would say everyone is 100% likely to die.

Re:No survivors (1)

masmullin (1479239) | more than 5 years ago | (#28519031)

<quote>The study showed that underweight people were 70 percent more likely than people of normal weight to die, and extremely obese people were 36 percent more likely to die</quote>

Well you would be wrong, according to the article underweight people have a 170% chance of death while very fat people have a 136% chance of death.

Roll 2 d10 please.

Re:No survivors (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#28519221)

So then the only people with 100% chance to die are the normal people! Guess it must be better to be fat or underweight then.

Re:No survivors (5, Funny)

DahGhostfacedFiddlah (470393) | more than 5 years ago | (#28519209)

That used to be true. Just look at anyone born before the early 20th century. 100% mortality rate. But with the rise of modern science and the marked decrease in pirates, we've slowly been reducing that rate.

If you look just at the stats for people born since 1980, you'll find a remarkable level of resistance to death, with death rates less than half of those who were born in the 1930's, so it's obvious that there have been significant improvements.

At this rate, not only will those born after 2030 never die, but by 2080, people will be living two, maybe even three lives at once, for eternity!

BMI is a poor measurement tool for obesity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28518715)

For example, I am 5'10" and typically weigh around 175 lbs. This gives me a BMI of 25.1 or slightly overweight.

But this is far from the case, as I'm an avid athlete (I've completed 4 marathons in less than 2 years), a healthy eater, and if you saw me you'd be hard-pressed to find where I carry any of this supposed extra weight, as I have a lean build and a low percentage of body fat, but a good deal of muscle.

I suspect this is the case with many of these so-called "slightly overweight" folks, they're actually in pretty good shape and have too much muscle which BMI does not account for.

Optional? (1)

Omega Hacker (6676) | more than 5 years ago | (#28518725)

"But overweight individuals defined as a body mass index of 25 to 29.9 were 17 percent less likely to die than people of a normal weight defined as a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9."

Man, now that I know dying is optional, I'll have to start eating more...

Seriously, does anybody ever actually pay attention to how they phrase this stuff?

Perhaps their BMI scales are off. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28518731)

I've seen some of these scales (you are this tall and you weight this much, you have a bmi of xxx and you are this overweight.) I'm sorry but for me to be at the BMI they suggest, I would have to shed all the muscle mass I have and become sickly thin. Perhaps the "Normal weight" they classify is actually people who could stand to gain a few pounds.

To a lot of these charts, the sickly thin super models are of "Normal weight".. Yet they die eariler than people with a few more pounds.. Hrmmm.

Correlation Equals Causation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28518747)

I wonder if the 70% knock for underweight counts deaths from starvation.

English (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28518763)

Overweight may not be the problem we thought it was, said Dr. David H. Feeny, a caveman, "Overweight was protective."

SLIGHTLY (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28518765)

That's slightly overweight, fatties.

Re:SLIGHTLY (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28518841)

Does that mean Valve'll boost the Heavies health in the next TF2 update?

You know why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28518807)

Because slightly overweight people are happy. Puggy people can eat most foods and not feel overly guilty and at the same time enjoy not being overly criticized by society. I believe mental health and well being plays a much larger roll in overall health than what modern/western medicine believe it to be.

Real conflict for Govt. Busybodies... (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 5 years ago | (#28518829)

They've been working up to outlawing eating fattening foods-- you can see it in the research being funded and articles in the paper and magazines.

So now what? Force you to eat if you are underweight (70%??? Wow!)?

BMI is also a problem. I'm 268-- 6'5". My doc says I should be 235.

Problem is I have a six pack, visible veins sticking out on my arms and legs, and you can see individual muscle sections moving when I move. So I'm fairly lean.
But my BMI is high. I can lose weight- probably 25 pounds-- no one thinks I can make 235-- not even the doctor any more. I'd have to burn off muscle to hit that weight.

Yeah, it's true (5, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 5 years ago | (#28518853)

As someone who has been extremely underweight (body fat percentage down to 3.4%), 50 pounds overweight, and also a track runner in good shape, I can agree with this. Underweight is by FAR the worse: you feel absolutely horrible because your body doesn't have the nutrients you need to rebuild your body and keep it in good shape. It took me years to completely recover from that. There is nothing worse than waking up in the morning and feeling just as bad as when you went to bed because your body hasn't been able to repair itself in the night.

If you are the exact weight you need to be, then you need to have a very well balanced diet, that includes all the nutrients you need in the proper proportions. Otherwise, obviously, you are going to be missing a few nutrients you need.

If you are a little overweight, it's not nearly as hard to have a balanced diet: you can have a higher percentage of carbohydrates and lower percentage of protein in your diet and still be ok, because you are eating more than you need of both. It is more flexible and easier, even if less attractive.

And don't forget to eat broccoli. You're going to have to eat a lot of beef and wheat and other foods to make up for the nutrients you are not getting in green vegetables. That can put you far overweight, especially as you age.

And misinterpreation ensues... (4, Interesting)

MrCrassic (994046) | more than 5 years ago | (#28518907)

I can see that the intent of the article will lead to immense amounts of false justification. See, the majority of people that are overweight usually arrive at that state from extended periods of poor eating habits (or lots of drinking), inactivity or a combination of both.

It also appears that both articles base their study largely on BMI, which is well-known for being an outdated indicator of health in relation to weight. It works for those that are not athletic or abnormal, but is unreliable for anyone in those two categories. What might have been a better criterion for this study was body fat, which correlates much better to a person's weight.

Intuitively, I agree with the point made here. From the little that I know about nutrition, I've read that having some extra weight (apart from lean body weight and the necessary amount of body fat) helps the body function much better in everyday situations. Should this reach mass media, I'm almost positive that this, amongst other things, will be the excuse for those that don't wish to consider improving their health and lifestyle choices.

Oh well. Mental masturbation never fails to relieve.

BMI should not be used (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28518913)

BMI is worse than useless. BMI, or Body Mass Index, is essentially a glorified height-to-weight ratio. Sounds like exactly what needs to be measured, right? No. What if I told you I was 6'2" and 225 lbs? What do I look like? You have no idea. I could be pudgy and out of shape, or I could be muscular and ripped. Muscle adds bodyweight, just like fat. This means that BMI counts athletic people as overweight. Yes, it actually penalizes the people who are in the best shape. Now, I don't know to what degree this affects this particular study, but it's entirely possible that the individuals who are "slightly overweight" are actually just the individuals who exercise a little more than most and thus carry a little more muscle than average.

What's so frustrating is that everyone has known for years that BMI is not appropriate for, well, anything, and yet people continue to use it.

Re:BMI should not be used (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#28519087)

BMI is useful for 99.9% of the population.

People getting butthurt that they got a high BMI despite being "athletic and fit" are idiots.

Be careful about BMI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28518917)

I'm serious, be very careful with BMI. I'm 5'9" at 185 pounds which would give me a BMI of about 27 making me technically overweight. However, I am a runner and go to the gym twice a week and have 11% body fat making me below average as far as fat percentage is concerned. BMI is not always a good indicator of being overweight...

Study is nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28518923)

The study defines over/underweight by the BMI, and not measuring the percentage of body fat.

That renders any findings moot.

Poor perspective. (4, Insightful)

Jason1729 (561790) | more than 5 years ago | (#28518935)

"They" say being slightly overweight leads to a longer life than "normal" weight. Perhaps the reality is "they've" defined normal a little too low.

The phrasing is a bit imprecise (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 5 years ago | (#28518981)

Last I checked, 100% of people die (Dick Clark excluded, of course), regardless of if you're underweight or overweight.

Canada (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#28519055)

A little extra blubber keeps the Canucks from freezing. It's science.

I feel better (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 5 years ago | (#28519105)

I must say that I usually feel better when I'm 2 or 3 kilos over the maximum weight that I may have according to the BMI 'norm.'

1/3 of americans arent obese lardasses after all? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28519149)

This is one of those feelgood reports that fat asses will flock to with their greasy chubby KFC laden hands.
So why dwelve on those 30%+ tubs of goo that roam the countryside?
Things arent so bad. Really, its just bad BMI readings.

While BMI isnt perfect, this map gives you an idea of how fat the country has become in the past 20 years:
http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2007/fit.nation/obesity.map/

THere is a big differences with having a little fat covering the ab muscles to those big fat mamas you see everywhere that look like theyre concealing livestock under their clothes. But every John Popper (before surgery) fat ass is going to say that this applies to them. If you havent seen your genitals in a few years, it doenst apply to you.

Wine isnt dangerous for you and some studies even claim it is beneficial but I would never recommend an alcoholic have a glass a day, some people should stay away from it.
Just like junk food. Micheal Phelps can eat all the junk he wants, it doesnt mean the waddling penguins of this country should.

I am immortal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28519159)

Pass me those cheetos (please).

Are you sure they live longer.... (3, Funny)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 5 years ago | (#28519165)

...or is it just that it takes longer for friends and family of the slightly overweight people to realize the fact they are still on the couch is not normal.

More data needed (1)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 5 years ago | (#28519199)

I'd really like to see the curves, and not just the conclusions on this study.

This 1999 study by Calle et al. [ox.ac.uk] suggested that the optimum BMI is about 22-24. The new study summary says people with BMI 25 to 29.9 are less likely to die than people with B.M.I. 18.5 to 24.9.

The problem is that there's a huge difference between "18.5" (= way underweight) and "24.9" (around the optimum). That's just too large a data bin to be useful. It's too large to be able to tell if the new data contradicts the old data, or not.

What does the mortality vs mass curve look like?

WTF? (1)

M0b1u5 (569472) | more than 5 years ago | (#28519205)

Why would the researchers be surprised by this? Jesus, you don't need to be in medicine (I'm not, but I am interested, and my Dad's a doctor) to easily know that a few extra pounds are good for you.

When people get sick, their body often turns cannibalistic; consuming itself to try and heal. If you have no extra weight, then your body will start consuming muscle tissue, and all the associated problems that brings.

By having some fatty tissue in excess of the ideal BMI, you provide yourself a reservoir of energy which your body can use in the event of illness.

Certainly a "normal healthy" weight person who gets sick may end up quite frail after an illness, making it more likely they'll be injured, or suffer an infection subsequently.

So many Faults (1)

gubers33 (1302099) | more than 5 years ago | (#28519231)

This article is extremely flawed using the BMI, I have played football most my life and now play Rugby. I work out every day so my BMI says I am obese when in reality I'm just muscle. Muscle weighs more than fat, that's a fact. I would love to see the doctors and scientists who did this study. I they probably are all overweight slobs. This is just another flawed perspective that is fattening America...it like a few years back when some doctor said that being fat was a disease. PUT THE FORK DOWN!

BMI is a bad measure. (1)

baldusi (139651) | more than 5 years ago | (#28519241)

There's a big problem with the BMI. It's a quadratic aproximation to a cubic mesure. I.e. the body should be proportional to the cube of the height. But they approach by a square. I've seen that big people is always overweight according to BMI. I was training ice hockey four times per week, playing in two leagues, and I was in top condition. My actual weight was 96kg, but I was supposed to be 82kg according to the BMI.
I don't know why don't they use body fat percentage. May be because they don't want to invest in modern measuring technology.

Usually it leads to a larger coffin! (1)

itsybitsy (149808) | more than 5 years ago | (#28519307)

Being overweight most certainly leads to a larger coffin or urn for ashes! Or, you end up feeding mama bear and the whole family whereas a scrawny human might only feed mama with a taste for the kids. Rebalance [rebalance.com] your weight the only safe and real way - by burning more calories each day than you consume! Look at it this way, being overweight gives you a more spacious box to not exist in after you're dead. Kinda like more space to not stretch your legs.
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