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Longevity Longevity and Age Management Weight and Obesity

Obese people live slightly longer, Japanese study finds

9 years, 8 months ago

1495  0
Posted on Jul 13, 2009, 9 a.m. By gary clark

At the conclusion of a 12-year study by the Japanese Health, Labour and Welfare Ministry on middle-aged and elderly people, researchers have found that both men and women who are overweight at the age of 40 have longer average life spans than their thinner peers.

For a period of 12 years, Japanese researchers studied 50,000 people in Northern Japan between the ages of 40 and 79. They looked at each participant's build, body-mass history and the number of years they lived beyond 40. The investigators found that those men with an average body mass index (BMI) in the normal range lived an average of 79.74 years, while those who were clinically obese lived an average of 81.64 years. Women with a normal BMI at age 40 lived to an average age of 87.97 years, while overweight women lived slightly longer - to an average age of 88.05.

It's important to note that in Japan, people with a BMI starting at 25 are considered obese, whereas by United States standards, a BMI of 30 is considered obese. Therefore, the Japanese researchers stress that trying to extend one's life by putting on some extra weight is not a good idea.

Furthermore, they speculate that one reason thinner people have shorter lives may have to do with smoking habits, as smoking tends to keep weight down in many people. Shorter life spans of skinner people may also be due to their heightened vulnerability to such diseases as pneumonia and the fragility of their blood vessels, notes Shinichi Kuriyama, associate professor at Tohoku University's Graduate School of Medicine, who worked on the study. He cautioned that he was not recommending people eat as much as they want. "It's better that thin people try to gain normal weight, but we doubt it's good for people of normal physique to put on more fat," he says.

News Release: Obesity may lengthen life expectancy, say Japanese researchers


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