Being slightly overweight may not be a health risk

November 6, 2007 in Nutrition Topics in the News, Weight Management

Being slightly overweight may not be a health risk

Amidst all the news about the dangers of obesity, American researchers have found that carrying an extra 20 to 25 pounds may not increase your risk of premature death.

An analysis of 2.3 million deaths in the Unites States showed that overweight people had a lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease or cancer compared to normal weight people. Overweight people also had a lower risk of dying from respiratory diseases, infectious diseases, liver disease, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. Only kidney disease and diabetes were linked to being overweight.

It is thought that a higher than average body weight may improve survival because "greater nutritional reserves" may enable overweight people to recover from infections or medical procedures.

This study defined overweight as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25-29.9.  Use of BMI, a ratio of weight to height, has its limitations. Studies have shown that excess fat in the abdominal area is an important predictor of heart disease. BMI doesn't reflect the location of excess body fat, which may explain why this study didn't link it to increase cardiovascular risk. Use of the waist-to-hip ratio would overcome this limitation in future investigations.  

Click here to calculate your BMI and waist-to-hip ratio.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.