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Overweight may extend lifespan?

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Being overweight may not be a bad thing for elderly people, according to a new study which showed that those who were overweight were less likely to die for a period of 10 years than those with normal weight.

The Australian study published Jan 28 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society contradicted with what was found in previous research which suggests that being overweight may raise risk for many health problems.

For the study, researchers examined data from 4,677 men and 4,563 women aged 70 to 75 who were recruited in 1996 and followed for up to 10 years.

Overweight was defined as having a person's body mass index between 25.0 and 29.9 kg/m2. 

Leon Flicker, PhD of The University of Western Australia and colleagues found the death risk was lowest for overweight people compared to those who were obese or had normal body weight.

Compared to those with normal weight, overweight people were 13 percent less likely to die.  The risk of death for the obese and the normal-weight subjects was similar.

The researchers concluded that "overweight older people are not at greater mortality risk than those who are normal weight."

A health observer said that caution needs to be exercised in the interpretation of the findings and he suggested that the conclusion is not applicable to a general population.
The researchers excluded people who died before the study got started and other "illegible participants".  These people if included in the analysis may or may not result in a different conclusion on the associaiton between overweight and mortality.
Medpage Today reported that the study limitations include "observational design, measurement of height and weight only once at study entry, use of BMI as a surrogate measure of body fat, reliance on self-reported height and weight, and lack of generalizability to older people who are frail and at risk for death."

By Jimmy Downs

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