Thursday, November 1, 2012

Surprise! Lean People Live Longer

In  the Nurses  Health  Study,  researchers examined the association between body mass index and overall mortality and mortality from specific causes in more than 100,000 w o m e n . After limiting t h e anal
ysis to nonsmokers, it was very clear that the longest-lived women were the leanest.21 The researchers concluded that the increasingly permissive  U.S.  weight  guidelines  are  unjustified  and  potentially harmful.
Dr. I-Min Lee, of the Harvard School of Public Health, said her twenty-seven-year study of 19,297 men found there was no such
thing as being too thin.        (Obviously, ii is possible to be too thin; how­
ever, it is uncommon and usually called anorexia, but that is not the subject of this book.)  Among men who never smoked, the  lowest mortality occurred in  the  lightest  fifth.22  Those  who  were  in  the thinnest 20 percent in the early 1960s were two and a half times less
likely to have died of cardiovascular disease by 1988 than those in
the heaviest fifth. Overall, the thinnest were two-thirds more likely to be alive in 1988 than the heaviest. Lee stated, "We observed a di­
rect relationship between body weight and mortality. By that I mean
that the thinnest fifth of men experienced the lowest mortality, and mortality increased progressively with heavier and heavier weight." The point is not to judge your ideal weight by traditional weight-loss tables,  which are based on  Americans' overweight averages.  After carefully examining the twenty-five major studies available on the subject, I have found that the evidence indicates that optimal weight, as
determined by who lives the longest, occurs at weights at least
10 per­
cent below the average body-weight tables.23 Most weight-guideline
charts still place the public at risk by reinforcing an unhealthy over­
weight standard. By my calculations, it is not merely 75 percent of Americans that are overweight, it is more like 85 percent.

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