The ‘obesity paradox’ isn’t real: Carrying extra weight increases risk of early death

It seems there aren’t any health benefits to carrying a few extra pounds after all. New research from Boston University and Harvard shows that people who are overweight or obese at some point during adulthood increase their risk of an early death.

That may not sound like breaking news, however this new research debunks an earlier theory known as the ‘obesity paradox.’ That theory highlighted in previous studies seemed to show that overweight people had a reduced risk of early death compared to those who were of normal weight.

Apparently not. For this new study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers followed the health and weight history of more than 225,000 participants over 16 years. They also examined the causes of death of those participants who passed away over the course of the study and over 12 years of follow up.

It turns out that adults who are more heavyset have a higher risk of dying from multiple causes. The study found that participants whose body mass index (BMI) fell into the levels classified as overweight or obese increased their risk of dying young especially from heart disease, cancer, and respiratory disease, among other causes. In some cases the risks were extreme.

Notably, participants who had a maximum BMI in the obese range (from 30 to 34.9) or severely obese range (35 or above) were 24 per cent to 70 per cent more likely to die during the follow-up period, compared with people who were in the normal weight range (from 18.5 to 24.9).

According to Statistics Canada, just over 20 per cent of adult Canadians (roughly 5.3 million people) are considered to be obese.

As your weight goes up, so does your increased risk of a premature death. “This is one more reason why people should follow a healthy lifestyle and try to keep to a normal weight,” said study author Edward Yu.

Just don’t get too carried away with the weight loss. This study also found that underweight people had an increased overall risk of death (46 per cent) particularly from heart disease (77 per cent) or cancer.

Source: Weight history over time shows higher risk of death for overweight, obese people

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