The Slightly Fat Live Longer

But quality of life not as good, experts warn

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 2, 2013 4:33 AM CST

(Newser) – Being obese is likely to take years off your life, but those who are just a bit overweight actually appear to have a lower risk of premature death than those of normal weight, according to a startling new study. Researchers crunched the numbers on studies involving nearly 3 million people and found that people classed as overweight died at slightly lower rates than those with a normal body mass index, while those considered mildly obese didn't have a higher risk of premature death than the normal group, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Among over-65s, even the highly obese had no extra mortality risk. Experts say the apparent survival edge of the overweight could come down to many factors—extra reserves of fat during illness, more padding to protect elderly bones from falls, or perhaps the fact that the overweight are likelier to suffer medical conditions that bring them in regular contact with doctors. It's those chronic conditions, including diabetes and high blood pressure, that make researchers hope the study won't start a stampede for the cookie aisle.

A 15-year-old girl has her sensor checked before starting a series of physical activities at a University of Southern California lab.
A 15-year-old girl has her sensor checked before starting a series of physical activities at a University of Southern California lab.   (AP Photo/Kim Johnson Flodin)
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There’s something about extra body fat when you’re older that is providing some reserve. - Dr. Robert Eckel, a past president of the American Heart Association

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