Being slightly overweight might not be so bad for your health and could actually lead to a longer lifespan, says a new study that is already creating controversy.
A study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association on Jan. 2 used previous research to compare the death rates of healthy weight, overweight and obese individuals. In the three million patients included, the study found that individuals who were considered overweight had slightly lower mortality rates that people who were in what is considered to be a healthy weight range (a body mass index of between 18.5-24.9).
Being “overweight was associated with significantly lower all-cause mortality,” the study says.
The study didn’t make any health recommendations based on its findings, but lead researcher Katherine M. Flegal told the Los Angeles Times that the study does pose more questions: “I think we should be open-minded and ask, ‘OK, what could be helpful about fat?'”
Other experts are already weighing in, saying that the study was flawed because other obese people had already died younger and may not have been included in the study.
Thin people included in the study could also have other underlying health problems, University of Texas professor Donald Berry told BBC News. “Some portion of those thin people are actually sick, and sick people tend to die sooner,” he said.