According to Margaret Wente they do, in her Globe and Mail editorial from last week she unwisely states “get fat, live longer.” The problem Margaret has here is using one study to come to a conclusion when there is a mountain of evidence out there and most of it points toward moderate weights being far more healthy and associated with a lower mortality. From the editorial:
Here’s more bad news for all those folks who are nagging us about our weight. The evidence is very clear that, unless you are morbidly obese with health problems, losing lots of weight is bad for you, not good.
I have to disagree Margaret, weight loss is usually marked by healthy activities, which is more important than baseline weight or even significant weight loss; those with an active and healthy lifestyle continually show lower mortality than those with sedentary lifestyles.
Travis at Obesity Panacea (maybe the best health blog name on the net) has a smart takedown of the article which does well at explaining how this study fits into the body of obesity research. The results of the study become more clear when put in the correct context and all confounding factors are taken into consideration. Travis wraps the whole situation up nicely in his post.
So what’s the take-home message from thislengthy post (aside from ignoring health advice from Margaret Wente)? Body weight affects your health, but not as much as diet and exercise. So focus on those healthy behaviors, and you’ll be moving towards a longer, healthier life.