The Washington Post is reporting a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association which finds that being overweight is not necessarily the death sentence nutrition nannies are claiming it is.
First, the JAMA study finds:
Overweight was associated with significantly decreased mortality from non-cancer, non-CVD [cardiovascular disease] causes but not associated with cancer or CVD mortality.
The Post reports:
Being overweight boosts the risk of dying from diabetes and kidney disease but not cancer or heart disease, and carrying some extra pounds actually appears to protect against a host of other causes of death, federal researchers reported yesterday.
The counterintuitive findings, based on a detailed analysis of decades of government data about more than 39,000 Americans, supports the conclusions of a study the same group did two years ago that suggested the dangers of being overweight may be less dire than experts thought.
"The take-home message is that the relationship between fat and mortality is more complicated than we tend to think," said Katherine M. Flegal, a senior research scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, who led the study. "It's not a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all situation, where excess weight just increases your mortality risk for any and all causes of death."
The study, published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association, was greeted with sharply mixed reactions. Some praised it for providing persuasive evidence that the dangers of fat have been overblown.
"What this tells us is the hazards have been very much exaggerated," said Steven N. Blair, a professor of exercise science, epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of South Carolina. "It's just not as big a problem as people have said."
While being fat may not dramatically raise mortality rates, extra weight does apparently increase disabilities among older folks.
Whole Post article here.
Read my colleague Jacob Sullum's excellent review of two books questioning the received wisdom on the dangers of being fat here.
Disclosure: My body mass index (BMI) is 26.1. Calculate yours here.