A few extra kilos may extend your life: study

As the New Year brings a renewed vigor to drop those extra kilos, a new study suggests that carrying around extra weight may not be bad for your health at all and may even extend your life.

A new analysis published online Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that people classified as overweight, with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 to 29.9, lived a bit longer than those who were at a so-called normal weight. A reduction in the risk of death from all causes was about six percent lower for people who were overweight, noted the researchers.

Researchers looked at data from 97 studies involving nearly three million people in the US, Canada, Europe, Australia, China, Taiwan, Japan, Brazil, India, and Mexico.

In the research, people who were obese, with a BMI of 35 or more, lived shorter lives on average than those with a normal weight, or a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9.

While Katherine M. Flegal, an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US, and her team controlled for factors such as smoking -- which can keep people thin but lead to an early death -- they say their study merely finds an association between weight and life span.

In an editorial published in the same journal, Steven B. Heymsfield, MD, executive director of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Lousiana, cites a number of possibilities as to why extra weight could improve your health.

For one, prior research has found that people who are overweight are treated more aggressively for health issues such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol than people who are at a normal weight. Additionally, BMI is not a perfect indicator of fat in the body, he adds. Also, heavier people are not as prone to osteoporosis and have more padding to protect their bones should they take a spill, reducing their risk of a life-endangering hip fracture, for example.

Access the study: http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1555137