Friday, June 19, 2009

Overweight Better than Skinny

In yet another peer-reviewed, medical study, people who are overweight, but not obese live longer than skinny people (they also live longer that the obese, but very skinny people die sooner than obese people). Its a Japanese study, reported by an Australian paper. Here's some of the dish:

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.

"We found skinny people run the highest risk," said Shinichi Kuriyama, an associate professor at Tohoku University's Graduate School of Medicine who worked on the long-term study of middle-aged and elderly people.

The study was extensive and conducted by the ministry of health in Japan (similar to the NIH in the U.S.). The study's finding regarding the vulnerablity of the thin to earlier death was even found when they took out smokers or other health factors that might contribute to low body weight. Now, we are talking about those with a BMI under 18.5 to denote "very skinny" but that does account for the vast majority of models and many other beauty emblems promoted by the unhealthy fashion and entertainment industries.

The study's author warned readers if they were of normal weight, not to go out and seek to put on extra fat, but they did encourage the very thin to do so. This is the second or third story I've seen that talks about the slightly overweight as the winners in longevity. Perhaps "normal" ought to be extended to include this weight range? If its healthier, if one can expect to live longer, why isn't the slightly overweight considered normal weight? I think that the way we talk about weight and how it relates to health is tricky and it belies myths and prejudices about fat and what it takes to be in shape.


  1. BMI categories do not take into account many factors such as frame size and muscularity.[10] The categories also fail to account for varying proportions of fat, bone, cartilage, water weight, and more. (From

    Well, I think the focus should be overall health. Which are things like:
    - Recovery time after exercise.
    - Flexibity
    - Endurance
    - Persons precieved happiness level.

  2. Absolutely, there are better measure of health than just weight. In addition to those you mention, good/bad cholestrol tests, other blood lipid tests, blood sugar, c-reactive protein, and more.