Science Says Being Overweight Means You Live Longer

OK, so you’re packing a few more pounds than the doctor says you should be. That just might give you some extra life. We’re not talking obese here, just a bit overweight. It’s not like you’ll live forever but doctors might not be quite honest when addressing the health risks associated with people whose BMIs – that is, Body Mass Indexes – are between 25 and 30, ranked as “overweight” on the BMI scale.

BMI is the chart healthcare professionals swear by to determine a person’s percentage of fat based on their weight and height. Doctors have lectured on and on about the dangers of being “overweight,” but it might actually be better for you to have a little extra weight than to be at a “normal” BMI.

Wikipedia says “The generally accepted view is that being overweight causes similar health problems to obesity, but to a lesser degree.” But papers regarding the dangers of being overweight, like the Journal of the American Medical Association’s paper regarding “Excess deaths associated with underweight, overweight, and obesity,” you find statements like “Overweight was not associated with excess mortality.”

In fact, the findings are that people who are overweight actually live longer than people who are in the normal weight range. Translation is that being a little overweight might be, well, normal, while being considered of normal weight by the BMI chart you might actually be mildly underweight.

While research supports the idea that people within the “overweight” category are healthier and live longer, science and the doctors who recognize this issue are still unwilling to make the call and change “overweight” to “normal” for the charts.

This also suggests that the dangers of being within that category may be grossly over-exaggerated since doctors are continually finding out that “overweight” people actually tend to live longer, healthier lives than those within the “normal” weight groups.

Of course, at some point, the more weight you put on, the worse your health will become, because obesity is still damaging to your body – high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin issues, hormonal problems and many others. But where that point actually begins has been called into question.

So if you go to the clinic and your BMI is a little higher than “acceptable” to your doctor, don’t freak out and call off carbs. You just might be within a totally healthy weight group. You might be able to enjoy a longer life than your skinnier friends.

Nearly 1 in 3 People Overweight

Nearly a third of the world’s population is obese or overweight and an increasing number of people are dying of related health problems in a “disturbing global public health crisis,” acording to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Some 4 million people died of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and other ailments linked to excess weight in 2015, bringing death rates related to being overweight up 28 percent since 1990, according to the research.

“People who shrug off weight gain do so at their own risk,” said Christopher Murray, one of the authors of the study. In 2015, excess weight affected 2.2 billion people equal to 30 percent of the world’s population, according to the study.

Almost 108 million children and more than 600 million adults weighed in as obese, having a body mass index (BMI) above 30, said the research that covered 195 countries. More than 60 percent of fatalities occurred among this group, the study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington found.

BMI is calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by their height in meters squared, and is an indication of whether a person is a healthy weight. A BMI score over 25 is overweight, over 30 is obese and over 40 is morbidly obese.

The World Health Organization says obesity has more than doubled since 1980, reaching epidemic proportions. Obesity rates among children were increasing faster than among adults in many countries, including Algeria, Turkey and Jordan, the study said. Meanwhile, almost 800 million people, including 300 million children, go to bed hungry each night, according to the United Nations.

Poor diets and sedentary lifestyles were mainly to blame for increasing numbers of overweight people, experts said. Urbanization and economic development have led to increasing obesity rates also in poor countries where part of the population doesn’t have enough to eat, as people ditch traditional, vegetable-rich diets for processed foods.

“People are consuming more and more processed foods that are high in sugar and fat and exercising less,” said Boitshepo Bibi Giyose, senior nutrition officer at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. Research in Mexico, Brazil, China, South Korea and Britain by London-based Overseas Development Institute has shown that the cost of processed foods like ice cream, hamburgers, chips and chocolate has fallen since 1990, while the cost of fresh fruit and vegetables has gone up.

Retail Mannequins Skewer Body Types

A University of Liverpool study finds that the average female mannequin used to display clothing at British fast fashion stores closely mirrors the body type of a severely underweight woman, which can have serious implications on public perceptions of “ideal” body types.

mannequinsResearchers looked at 17 fashion retailers across two British cities and assessed the body size of male and female mannequins, rating each figure on two scales: one based on body mass index (BMI), and the other on visual perception. (Because brands didn’t let them inspect the figures directly, the team had to rely on solely visuals to carry out their research, BBC reported.)

Their findings, published in the Journal Of Eating Disorders, indicated that a higher proportion of the female-bodied mannequins reviewed were “underweight,” according to these standards. The male-bodied mannequins were significantly larger than the average counterparts. Every one of the 32 female-bodied mannequins assessed throughout the data collection was underweight, compared to only 8% of the 26 male-bodied ones that researchers looked at.

Not only was there a lack of diversity of body size among the female-bodied mannequins, but researchers concluded that the figures’ frames would be considered “medically unhealthy” on a real person. “Our survey of these two high streets in the UK produced consistent result: The body size of female mannequins represented that of extremely underweight human women,” Dr. Eric Robinson, who led the study by the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Psychology, Health, and Society, told Science Daily.

Changing the size of the mannequins wouldn’t “solve young people’s body image problems, he admitted, but underweight-seeming figures likely perpetuate society’s existing body ideals – and should therefore be curbed.”Because ultra-thin ideals encourage the development of body image problems in young people, we need to change the environment to reduce emphasis on the value of extreme thinness,” Robinson told Science Daily.

The “presentation of ultra-thin female bodies” in the form of mannequins, the researcher added, “is likely to reinforce inappropriate and unobtainable body ideals, so as a society we should be taking measures to stop this type of reinforcement.”

The study’s findings are agreeable with a string of complaints that have come out of the U.K. in regards to the ultra-thin look of mannequins used in stores: Various British retailers have received criticism, especially on social media, in recent years for the unrealistic body types put forth with their displays.