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By Stephen Pederson

Health Study Shocker – Overweight People Have Lower Mortality Rates

Being Overweight Means You Have A Better Chance of Living

Contrary to public opinion, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has published a study that shows that those who are overweight have the lowest mortality rates compared to all other groups of weighted people.  The study combined data sets from 97 different studies with an overall total of 2.88 million people and 270,000 deaths.  Using the body mass index (BMI)as a method of categorizing indivuals in the data, the

A Chart of Body Mass Index (BMI)

Body Mass Index (BMI) Chart

study looked at establishing hazard ratios (relative mortality rates) for each group.  The groups of individuals looked at normal weight, overweight, all obese, grade 1 obesity, and grade 2 and 3 obesity combined.  Here is what the findings show:

  • Normal weight (BMI < 25): 1.00
  • Overweight (BMI 25 to < 30): 0.94
  • Obesity, all (BMI >= 30): 1.18
  • Grade 1 Obesity (BMI 30 to < 35): 0.95
  • Grade 2 and 3 Obesity (BMI >=35): 1.29

These results show that people that fall into the “overweight” and “grade 1 obesity” categories have lower mortality rates than those in the “normal” weight category, by 6% and 5%, respectively.

The body mass index (BMI) is a method of calculating a persons body fat based on their height and weight (see the chart included in this post).  The BMI is a popular method of estimating sedentariness in population studies due to its ease of use and has become widely used in these types of studies over the last few decades.

For further reading on this topic, see the following sourches:

Body Mass Index – Wikipedia

The Journal of the American Medical Association – Association of All-Cause Mortality With Overweight and Obesity Using Standard Body Mass Index Categories: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

The Daily Beast – CDC Researchers Find Lower Mortality Rates Among Overweight People

Freakonomics, podcast – Surprising New Findings on Obesity


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