Study: Extra Weight Won't Raise Death Risk
Nov. 6, 2007 (KABC-TV) (KABC) -- A new study reveals being 25 pounds overweight doesn't appear to raise your risk of dying from cancer or heart disease.
If you met Brent Hagen walking down the street, you probably wouldn't call him heavy, but his body mass index is above what the government would call ideal.
"I don't think of myself as overweight and I don't think anyone that I know has ever thought of me as overweight either," says Brent Hagen.
BMI is weight divided by height squared. The Centers for Disease Control defines obesity 30 and above.
The normal range is between 18.5 and 25. And 25 to 30 is considered overweight which according to researchers might not be as unhealthy as previously thought.
"About 40 percent of deaths in the US population are due to causes that are neither cancer nor cardiovascular disease and there we found that overweight was associated with a significantly reduced number of deaths from those causes," says Dr. Katherine Flegal, CDC.
Causes like emphysema, pneumonia, injuries and various infections. Why extra fat isn't always deadly and might even help some people survive illness is unclear.
But many experts believe the study shows people should focus more on healthful eating and exercise and stop obsessing about carrying a few extra pounds. Yet: don't over do it.
"I would like to emphasize that our study doesn't change the basic public health recommendations. You should eat right, get some activity and don't smoke. Nothing about our study changes those recommendations," adds Dr. Flegal.
Being obese, generally 30 pounds overweight for your height, was linked to eleven percent of deaths from certain cancers and nine percent of deaths from heart disease.
Also, don't think it's better to be overweight. People between normal and obese still have a higher chance of dying from diabetes and kidney disease.
The findings are in the Journal of the Medical Association. Researchers analyzed the data on about 36,000 people and 12,000 deaths.
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