Human Exceptionalism

Overweight People Live Longer

I think we are so awash in “scientific studies”–many hyper-politicized or contradictory with other studies–that it seems to me that they offer little of value any more. For example, some researchers claim that calorie deprivation can extend lives. But a now verified study from two years ago says that overweight people live longer than the under and normal weight, as well as the obese. From the New York Times story:

About two years ago, a group of federal researchers reported that overweight people have a lower death rate than people who are normal weight, underweight or obese. Now, investigating further, they found out which diseases are more likely to lead to death in each weight group.

Linking, for the first time, causes of death to specific weights, they report that overweight people have a lower death rate because they are much less likely to die from a grab bag of diseases that includes Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, infections and lung disease. And that lower risk is not counteracted by increased risks of dying from any other disease, including cancer, diabetes or heart disease.

As a consequence, the group from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Cancer Institute reports, there were more than 100,000 fewer deaths among the overweight in 2004, the most recent year for which data were available, than would have expected if those people had been of normal weight.

Their paper is published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

What to believe? It’s hard to know, but as someone who is overweight but not obese, I’ll hang my hat on this particular hook!

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