In recent years, people have drawn comfort from the notion of the possibility of being both healthy and overweight. Several well publicized studies suggested that moderate excess body weight may have been exaggerated as a health threat.
A recent study, published in Annals of Internal Medicine, now raises doubts about the earlier claims. NPR published a good overview of the findings:
New research published Monday adds fuel to an ongoing debate in the public health community over whether a few extra pounds are good, or bad, for you.
Earlier research found that being somewhat overweight, but not obese, may result in a longer life.
But today’s study in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggests that being slightly overweight may actually decrease a person’s life span, which is more in line with conventional wisdom about weight.
One of the problem with earlier studies is that people tend to lose weight after they become ill. Thus, to gauge the actual effects of weight on mortality one needs to look at the history of an individual’s weight over a longer period of time. The new study looked at a 16 year weight history.