T Nation

Slightly Overweight? You'll Live Longer

Found this interesting, not necessarily applicable to lifters, but there you go:

WebMD Health News 2007. © 2007 WebMD Inc.

November 6, 2007 �?? New research from the CDC confirms that people who carry a few extra pounds have a lower risk of death than those who are normal weight, extremely underweight, or obese.

The study updates and expands a headline-making study from 2005, which first suggested a survival advantage for people considered overweight, but not obese, according to government standards.

Using additional mortality data with longer follow-up, the newer analysis examines death risk by specific cause.

Compared with people who fell into the normal-weight category, being obese was associated with an increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancers that have been linked to obesity, such as colon, breast, esophageal, uterine, and ovarian cancers.

Obesity was not associated with an increased risk of death from other cancers.

Being underweight was linked to an increased risk of death from non-cancer and non-cardiovascular causes.

And being slightly overweight, but not obese, was associated with a significant decrease in the risk of death from non-cancer and non-cardiovascular causes.

The study is reported in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association.

Body Weight and Death

CDC senior research scientist Katherine Flegal, PhD, who led the study team, tells WebMD that the analysis presents a more nuanced picture of the relationship between body weight and mortality.

“I don’t think this paper or the previous one can be generalized to make sweeping statements,” she says. “There is nothing here that should change public health messages about overweight and obesity.”

But she adds that in both studies, being modestly overweight was associated with an overall decrease in excess mortality.

In the newly reported study, CDC researchers used data from the National Health and Nutrition Survey (NHANES) to link deaths from specific causes to body weight, as measured by body mass index (BMI), which defines fatness and thinness based on height and weight.

A 5-foot-7-inch person is considered underweight with a BMI of 18.5, meaning that they weigh 118 pounds or less. Using the BMI measurement, the same person would be considered normal weight at a weight of 119 to 159 pounds, overweight at between 160 and 191 pounds, and obese at 192 pounds or more.

In the 2005 study, Flegal and colleagues speculated that carrying extra weight may not be as deadly as it once was because of better management and treatments for obesity-related diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

BMI, Age, and Mortality

But JoAnn Manson, MD, who is chief of preventive medicine at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, says that doesn’t mean carrying a few extra pounds has no negative impact on health.

“We should not become more complacent about overweight and obesity because of these findings,” she tells WebMD.

“The big picture of health extends far beyond mortality. We know that having a BMI in the overweight range is associated with many adverse health effects, including an increased risk for diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease as well as decreased physical function.”

And because most deaths occur among the elderly, the findings may have more relevance to people in their 70s and 80s than to younger people.

“We know that BMI is a less reliable measure of body fatness in older people, due to loss of muscle mass and weight loss due to chronic disease,” Manson says.

There is also some suggestion that carrying some extra weight is associated with a survival advantage in elderly people with chronic disease. The thinking is that these people have more muscle mass and nutritional reserves that can help them fight illness and regain their strength after hospital stays.

But Manson dismisses the idea that obesity is less dangerous for older people than younger ones.

“Obesity has a major impact on mortality at all ages,” she says.

As usual, BMI is used as basis for total BS study. Again. I’ve got $50 that says these “slightly” overweight people are those of us that walk around at 10%BF and carry about 15lbs more muscle than those equal our height.

Is it really that difficult to take body fat into account for these studies? Seriously, where is my Phd? I wonder what Dave Tate’s BMI is? He is probably considered obese!

Lately, Dave has been looking pretty obese.

Great, now all the fat asses are going to think its ok to be overweight.

Who cares. You have to die of something, I think the stress related to worrying about all these things is more harmful than just getting on with life.

[quote]analog_kid wrote:
As usual, BMI is used as basis for total BS study. Again. I’ve got $50 that says these “slightly” overweight people are those of us that walk around at 10%BF and carry about 15lbs more muscle than those equal our height.

Is it really that difficult to take body fat into account for these studies? Seriously, where is my Phd? I wonder what Dave Tate’s BMI is? He is probably considered obese![/quote]

i was just going to say that

I’ve never seen much wrong with having around 15% BF if you’re an active individual that eats fairly decently. It’s pretty widely accepted here in my area.

It’s the 25% that should worry.

Whatever. I’m ‘obese’ at 10% bodyfat. These studies mean nothing for us until they start looking at bodyfat % instead of BMI.

Maybe the slighlty ‘overweight’ people live longer because they have a modicum of muscle and engage in exercise and sports activities.

All this overweight and BMI business is a bunch of bullshit. I’m “overweight” because my BMI is overweight. I’m going to live longer than most people because I’m healthier than them. My being overweight is a function of my being more muscular than them. The stuff I’ve done to become more muscular will cause me to live longer.

If you take a 5’9’’ guy who eats like a rabbit and is 140lbs he will live longer than the 5’9’’ guy who eats a little more than he should . You can’t look at life expectancy based on 1 factor like weight. There will be too many outliers who will disprove you.

Fat people who don’t exercise will die first.

Skinny people who don’t exercise will die next. If they smoke, they might beat the fat people to it.

Chubby, active people who are surprisingly athletic will be the next to go but will be far ahead of the lazy fatties and the lazy skinnys.

Heavily muscled health nuts and well conditioned endurance athletes will not be far behind their chubby workout partners, but will live the longest.

Out of the ex-state champ football player who hits the weights until his dying day and the ex-state champ distance swimmer who jogs, bikes, and swims until his dying day I would put my money on the ex-state champ distance swimmer. The guy who hits the iron smart will benefit from better bone density, will have a good metabolism, and probably a healthy heart. He will, however, have more stress on his body from weighing more. The guy who runs and swims into his last years will have the healthiest heart and a good metabolism but will probably not have an immune system as robust as the weight lifters due to the nature of endurance training. Both the old football player and the old swimmer will have consumed many more calories than their fat and skinny counterparts who died before them. This will disprove that having a high-calorie diet is bad for you and stressful to your body.

Then there will be some freak who outlives everyone because all he does is benefit from his freakish genes, great luck, moderate exercise, and some diet that only consists of fish, onions, dry oats, white tea leaves, and water. No one really wants to be him.

exactly what i was going to say, the studies are done off BMI. I have a prof for health psych who quotes numberous studies to do with health and all are based off of BMI. Makes my blood boil. The fact that doctors or psychologists or whoever cant see how important body composition would be in these studies is mind boggling. Especially being trained to not overlook variables that might effect the outcome of the experiemnt. I dunno, just rattles the brain

[quote]jsbrook wrote:
These studies mean nothing for us until they start looking at bodyfat % instead of BMI.[/quote]

I don’t think it was necessarily geared for the T-Nation bodybuilding audience.

The fact that it repeatedly mentions the dangers of being overweight as hypertension, diabetes, etc, should have been some clue that it was more reflective of the general, non-lifting population.

[quote]Curodd wrote:
exactly what i was going to say, the studies are done off BMI. I have a prof for health psych who quotes numberous studies to do with health and all are based off of BMI. Makes my blood boil. The fact that doctors or psychologists or whoever cant see how important body composition would be in these studies is mind boggling. Especially being trained to not overlook variables that might effect the outcome of the experiemnt. I dunno, just rattles the brain[/quote]

Well, Manson DID say she knows BMI is less a reliable tool in regards to elderly people with skewed body compositions due to illness or whatever. It wouldn’t be too big of a leap to assume she may have the same idea for others involved in activities that would move their body composition away from that of the “average” individual.

I’m not saying the article is worth its weight in gold, or even that I really care too much about discussing or defending it, but it is food for thought.

If you aren’t considered obese by BMI standards, you aren’t lifting hard enough.

[quote]conner wrote:
jsbrook wrote:
These studies mean nothing for us until they start looking at bodyfat % instead of BMI.

I don’t think it was necessarily geared for the T-Nation bodybuilding audience.

The fact that it repeatedly mentions the dangers of being overweight as hypertension, diabetes, etc, should have been some clue that it was more reflective of the general, non-lifting population.

Curodd wrote:
exactly what i was going to say, the studies are done off BMI. I have a prof for health psych who quotes numberous studies to do with health and all are based off of BMI. Makes my blood boil. The fact that doctors or psychologists or whoever cant see how important body composition would be in these studies is mind boggling. Especially being trained to not overlook variables that might effect the outcome of the experiemnt. I dunno, just rattles the brain

Well, Manson DID say she knows BMI is less a reliable tool in regards to elderly people with skewed body compositions due to illness or whatever. It wouldn’t be too big of a leap to assume she may have the same idea for others involved in activities that would move their body composition away from that of the “average” individual.

I’m not saying the article is worth its weight in gold, or even that I really care too much about discussing or defending it, but it is food for thought.[/quote]

Well, even looking at the general population, what is the supposed mechanism by which being slightly overfat increases lifespan? No hypotheses or discussion here. Just a blanket statement. These things don’t really make me raise my eyebrows at all until there’s at least a little follow-up trying to determine the reasons.

[quote]jsbrook wrote:
conner wrote:
jsbrook wrote:
These studies mean nothing for us until they start looking at bodyfat % instead of BMI.

I don’t think it was necessarily geared for the T-Nation bodybuilding audience.

The fact that it repeatedly mentions the dangers of being overweight as hypertension, diabetes, etc, should have been some clue that it was more reflective of the general, non-lifting population.

Curodd wrote:
exactly what i was going to say, the studies are done off BMI. I have a prof for health psych who quotes numberous studies to do with health and all are based off of BMI. Makes my blood boil. The fact that doctors or psychologists or whoever cant see how important body composition would be in these studies is mind boggling. Especially being trained to not overlook variables that might effect the outcome of the experiemnt. I dunno, just rattles the brain

Well, Manson DID say she knows BMI is less a reliable tool in regards to elderly people with skewed body compositions due to illness or whatever. It wouldn’t be too big of a leap to assume she may have the same idea for others involved in activities that would move their body composition away from that of the “average” individual.

I’m not saying the article is worth its weight in gold, or even that I really care too much about discussing or defending it, but it is food for thought.

Well, even looking at the general population, what is the supposed mechanism by which being slightly overfat increases lifespan? No hypotheses or discussion here. Just a blanket statement. These things don’t really make me raise my eyebrows at all until there’s at least a little follow-up trying to determine the reasons. [/quote]

I hear ya on that.

[quote]Curodd wrote:
The fact that doctors or psychologists or whoever cant see how important body composition would be in these studies is mind boggling. Especially being trained to not overlook variables that might effect the outcome of the experiemnt. I dunno, just rattles the brain[/quote]

I think the explanation can be seen in the bodies of the doctors/scientists themselves. Most of them either aren’t in very good shape, or their definition of exercise is jogging, which means they are skinny fat. So their work is being handicapped by their own prejudices.

[quote]conner wrote:
jsbrook wrote:
conner wrote:
jsbrook wrote:
These studies mean nothing for us until they start looking at bodyfat % instead of BMI.

I don’t think it was necessarily geared for the T-Nation bodybuilding audience.

The fact that it repeatedly mentions the dangers of being overweight as hypertension, diabetes, etc, should have been some clue that it was more reflective of the general, non-lifting population.

Curodd wrote:
exactly what i was going to say, the studies are done off BMI. I have a prof for health psych who quotes numberous studies to do with health and all are based off of BMI. Makes my blood boil. The fact that doctors or psychologists or whoever cant see how important body composition would be in these studies is mind boggling. Especially being trained to not overlook variables that might effect the outcome of the experiemnt. I dunno, just rattles the brain

Well, Manson DID say she knows BMI is less a reliable tool in regards to elderly people with skewed body compositions due to illness or whatever. It wouldn’t be too big of a leap to assume she may have the same idea for others involved in activities that would move their body composition away from that of the “average” individual.

I’m not saying the article is worth its weight in gold, or even that I really care too much about discussing or defending it, but it is food for thought.

Well, even looking at the general population, what is the supposed mechanism by which being slightly overfat increases lifespan? No hypotheses or discussion here. Just a blanket statement. These things don’t really make me raise my eyebrows at all until there’s at least a little follow-up trying to determine the reasons.

I hear ya on that.[/quote]

I don’t think the study is necessarily talking about extra body fat, but just extra weight, which could be fat or muscle. To put it simply, if you suffer a serious accident or illness where you can’t eat for a while, and your body has no excess that it can burn for energy, you are more likely to die.

I agree that using BMI is oversimplifying things, but most people don’t even understand BMI, which is just a scale that says if you are this tall you should weigh about this much. Body composition is just way too complicated. So whoever did the study used BMI to keep it on a level that most people can understand.

I’m not saying that most people are to stupid to grasp the concept of Body Composition, just that they are too intellectually lazy to make the effort.

Wasnt there a study that said the less you eat the longer you live?

I dont buy into any of this crap, if you eat good and excercise you live longer, thats all I need to know. I got living proof for a grandparent.

BMI says that being 6’2, 145 is normal/healthy.

'Nuff said.