Advertisement
Health

Can a few extra pounds kill you?

Over the past several years, there have been multiple studies that appeared to point in a positive direction: that having a little bit of meat on your frame — not obesity, which has been repeatedly linked to an early death, but just the extra pounds that signify a commitment to eating dessert — made an individual a better candidate for increased longevity than their rake-thin peers.
By Sarah Treleaven
overweight Masterfile

Over the past several years, there have been multiple studies that appeared to point in a positive direction: that having a little bit of meat on your frame — not obesity, which has been repeatedly linked to an early death, but just the extra pounds that signify a commitment to eating dessert — made an individual a better candidate for increased longevity than their rake-thin peers. As we age, those extra pounds were thought to perform a protective function. So more mashed potatoes for everyone, right?

Not so fast, unfortunately. According to a recent story by Alex Hutchinson in the Globe and Mail, the results of a three-decade study have debunked those previous findings. Hutchinson quotes one of the study's authors, epidemiologist Pramil Singh: "The message from this cohort is that elderly adults who maintain a lower BMI [body] by following a healthy lifestyle pattern — lower meat consumption, higher consumption of plant foods, higher physical activity levels — will live longer." The idea that a healthy diet and clean lifestyle (no smoking, moderate drinking, regular exercise, etc) will increase your odds of longevity is not new; but what is new is the idea that a lower BMI means better health overall.

Interestingly, there is an exception when it comes to women, who are given a little extra BMI wiggle room once they hit their menopausal years because the estrogen produced in small additional amounts of body fat is thought to help reduce the risk of fractures and other ailments.

Of course, this research is all about averages and these findings do not indicate that you can't be both overweight and healthy. But the authors claim that being overweight — especially when carrying fat around the abdomen rather than the hips — makes one more likely to die earlier.

GET CHATELAINE IN YOUR INBOX!

Subscribe to our newsletters for our very best stories, recipes, style and shopping tips, horoscopes and special offers.

By signing up, you agree to our terms of use and privacy policy. You may unsubscribe at any time.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Advertisement
Advertisement