The Obesity Paradox

For more than a decade, medical researchers have been quietly trying to unravel a mystery. Contrary to common belief, being overweight can actually increase your chances of surviving many diseases. A recent study based in Sweden further indicates that overweight people actually live longer when confronting coronary issues. Why are they outliving their skinny brethren?

We have written before about patients with type II diabetes having better life expectancy when overweight compared to “ideal” weight or underweight patients. A study out of the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, monitored over 2,600 people with type II diabetes. They found that overweight people (surprisingly) out lived their thinner counterparts. The difference in mortality rate was a shocking two to one.

The new study in Sweden tracked data from over 64,000 adults who had been diagnosed with angina or heart attacks (technically called acute coronary syndromes). The participants were monitored over a period of about 21 months, on average.

The participants were divided into groups, based on their body mass index (BMI). The mortality rate of each BMI group was compared at the end of the study. The groups with the lowest (underweight) and highest (morbidly obese) BMIs were the most likely to die. The least likely to die was the group in the overweight/obese category.

What does this mean? Should people try to gain weight immediately upon receiving a diagnosis of acute coronary syndrome? Certainly not based in this one study! The research merely indicates a correlation between lowered mortality and obesity. There has not been a “cause and effect” connection established. What does seem reasonable, though, is to question the knee-jerk reaction to lose a lot of weight in response to such a diagnosis.

More research is required, and we will bring you the results as they are published. Until then, live a healthy lifestyle but don’t fixate on achieving the lowest possible BMI.

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