April 30, 2016 05:15 UTC

Audio / Health Report

Study Finds Overweight People Have Lower Risk of Death

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The World Health Organization says by the year 2015, more than two billion adults will be overweight and 700 million will be classified as obese.
The World Health Organization says by the year 2015, more than two billion adults will be overweight and 700 million will be classified as obese.


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From VOA Learning English, this is the Health Report in Special English.
New research shows that overweight or even mildly obese people have a lower risk of early death than people considered to be normal weight.
Researchers examined the results of 97 studies. Most of the studies were less than 10 years old. They included almost three million adults from around the world, including the United States, Canada, China, Taiwan, Brazil, India and Mexico.
The researchers work at the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
They found that people who are considered overweight or slightly obese were five to six percent less likely to die from all causes than people of normal weight. People with higher obesity ratings, however, had almost a 30 percent greater risk of death compared to normal-weight individuals.
Katherine Flegal was the lead author of the study. She says she was not surprised that overweight people would not have a higher risk of death.
“Because we’d actually already read a lot of this literature and realized it was likely that [mortality rates for] overweight would be at least not higher than normal weight. I guess I was a little bit surprised that it was definitely lower. And I was also surprised that the lower rates of obesity also didn’t seem to differ from normal weight.”
But she says the difference in death rates appears to be small between normal-weight people and those who are overweight or mildly obese.
The study has raised new questions about “body mass index,” or BMI. This is a measurement of body fat as a ratio of height to weight. BMI guidelines were used as a basis for the study. In recent years, many public health experts have promoted body mass index as a way to predict the risk of health problems. But a person's BMI can be misleading in some cases.
Steven Heymsfield is the executive director of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He says people can be physically fit and in good health, but might weigh more because they are more muscular.
“It’s very common in the military, for example, where you have young men and women who are very physically fit -- their BMI can be a little higher. And so the military knows that, and they check people with body fat measurement if they exceed the BMI guideline.”
Still, Dr. Heymsfield says people should not think gaining extra weight is OK just because of the new findings. He says being at a healthy weight lowers the risk for heart disease and diabetes. He and a colleague wrote an editorial that appeared along with the study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
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Comment Sorting
by: marcelo from: brasil
01/17/2013 12:21 PM
It seems to me that this article was supported by mc donalds or burger king... it also seems that this essay is trying to provide relief to those people who suffer from this disease - obesity. It is a common sense that being obese is not a good option for having a healthy and normal life. the chinese, japanese and others eastern people can prove that this article is not 100% correct. They live longer than the western people and, imagine that, they are almost skinny!!!!

by: Tequila Sunset from: Florida
01/16/2013 2:33 AM
This article explains nothing and talks in circles. It brings up BMI, which makes this even more vague. You can have a weight in the "overweight" range for you height, age and gender, but your BMI may be in the normal range. Muscle weights more than fat. What else is vague is...what did the people of each weight category die OF? Did the normal weight people die because they were tragically hit by a car while out for a run instead of sitting on the couch in the safety of their homes like the overweight or mildly obese category?

In Response

by: Brad from: Moscow Russia
01/17/2013 9:04 PM
It is the title of this article that is misleading."Overweight" is usually understood as "fat" while you are referring to a slight increase of BMI. To read only your headline is to believe that obesity is healthy!

by: 123fly
01/14/2013 8:57 PM
the health reports are not persuasive. everyyear difference things are said by experts.. last year obesity is a big problem it is reason of heart crisis and embolism was said.. this year overweight people have lower risk of date is said.. which one should we believe?

In Response

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
01/15/2013 8:36 AM
I agree with you. I think as long as clinical reports are concluded depending on statistical analysis, their results might be different from time to time according to materials and methodology. Statistics say only probablity. I doubt probability does not always say truth especially in individual cases.

01/14/2013 5:33 PM
Thank God! I'm a little overweight but I recently have started excercising. Thank you for bringing home this information.

by: Kitagawa Keikoh from: Daikanyama, TKO
01/13/2013 10:43 PM
Most people understand that overweight is not good for our health. But we should understand that overslim is more bad than mildly obese. We should not do food controls to get slim body like fashion models.

by: jaime from: pereira,colombia south
01/12/2013 5:03 PM
That is amazing

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
01/12/2013 12:05 AM
I suppose this new findings suggests that each statistical analysis, eventhough meta-analysis, would bring some different results depending on taken statistical methodolgy and background of materials.