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. (Read more overweight stories.)