Slightly Chubby People Live Slightly Longer
Glenn Reynolds passes along news of a Japanese study that finds “People who are a little overweight at age 40 live six to seven years longer than very thin people, whose average life expectancy was shorter by some five years than that of obese people, the study found.”
Sweet! I’ve apparently gotten out of shape at precisely the right time.
But Kuriyama warned he was not recommending people eat as much as they want. “It’s better that thin people try to gain normal weight, but we doubt it’s good for people of normal physique to put on more fat,” he said.
So, do overweight people live longest or not? A more thorough Times of India report elucidates:
While studying the volunteers, scientists looked at the past physiques of the participants and how long they lived past the age of 40, and grouped them according to their body mass index (BMI), an indicator of how fat a person is.
Men of regular weight (with a BMI of between 18.5 and 25) at age 40 lived for an average of 39.94 more years, while those who were overweight (BMI of between 25 and 30) at age 40 lived a further 41.64 years, the study found. Ladies of regular weight lived on average a further 47.97 years, compared with overweight women, who lived another 48.05 years. Obese men and women (BMI of 30 or more) lived a further 39.41 and 46.02 years, respectively. But thin men (BMI of less than 18.5) were on average expected to live 34.54 more years, and thin women another 41.79 years.
It’s not surprising that underweight people are unhealthy compared to people of ideal weight and even slightly overweight, especially since we’ve changed the standards in recent years lowering the “overweight” threshold. But it is surprising that people who are slightly over the ideal BMI live longer than those within the ideal range:
As far as the reason for the surprising finding is concerned, it could be that many thin people smoke and a theory that thin people are more susceptible to contagious diseases.
So, I wouldn’t recommend rushing out to grab a cheeseburger in an attempt to extend your lifespan. On the other hand, if you really want a cheeseburger, it’s probably not worth fighting the urge too much if you’re well on this side of obese.
Photo by Flickr user Steve Dinn under Creative Commons license.