Fat People Live Longer - Study Shows

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By Sarah Thomas | July 21, 2014 12:14 PM EST

Fat people have always been warned of cardiovascular and other life-threatening diseases that come as package with obesity. Recent research, however, says that overweight people with heart problems may live longer than their thinner counterparts.  

Reuters
Cadets for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point class of 2018 participate in physical exercises during Reception Day in West Point, New York July 2, 2014. During Reception Day, the new cadets begin the process of becoming West Point cadets and future U.S. Army officers. They undergo administrative processing, fittings for their initial issue of military clothing, receive haircuts, medical and physical evaluations and begin their first lessons in marching, military courtesy and discipline. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton (UNITED STATES - Tags: EDUCATION MILITARY)

U.S. researchers discovered in their new study, published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings, that underweight patients are more likely to have heart attacks or other cardiovascular diseases. The death rates were also observed to be the lowest in heavier people. The new research suggests that there is an "obesity paradox".

Dismissing the commonly held view that obesity is linked with several complications resulting in a shorter unhealthy life, researcher's explain that the reasons for the paradox might be because overweight patients turn to medications sooner to control high blood pressure, cholesterol levels etc, when compared to slimmer people. Research has also found that a higher Body Mass Index(BMI) though a disease-triggering factor, protects against death from many diseases.

The study was conducted as a means to understand this paradox, Dr Abhishek Sharma, of the State University of New York, led the research.  As a part of it, he analysed 36 previous studies involving tens of thousands of patients with coronary artery disease. Interestingly, those with a low BMI, which is defined as less than 20, were seen to have a 1.8- to 2.7-fold higher risk of coronary problems. And those with a higher BMI, which is between 25 and 30, had the lowest risk of death from cardiovascular complications.

"At this stage, we can only speculate on the reasons for this paradox," said Dr Sharma. The research found that the weight of a person was inversely proportional to the risk of death by heart problems. One explanation may be, said Dr Sharma, that overweight patients were more likely to be prescribed cardio-protective medications such as beta blockers and statins and in higher doses than the normal weight population.

"Obese and overweight patients have been found to have large coronary vessel damage, which might contribute to more favorable outcomes than those who have smaller damaged vessels," he said. There is also a probability that their hearts have learned to manage the work overload.

Obesity expert Dr Kamyar Kalantar-Zadeh of the University of California Irvine Medical Centre, commented on the study.  He said, "Although the underlying mechanisms of the obesity paradox remain unclear, the consistency of the data is remarkable. It leaves little doubt that these observational data are biologic plausibility."

But he warned that the research must not be taken as a reason to ignore the dangers of obesity. "The findings in these studies should not be considered as an attempt to undermine the legitimacy of the anti-obesity campaign in the best interest of public health,' he informed.

This study, however, looks at the correlation of obesity and death and not at the medical conditions. With obesity growing, people's health condition is deteriorating. The research must not be taken at face value, every individual's health is important and no matter what, you have to take care of it. It's best to remain fit and healthy.

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(Photo: Reuters / )
Cadets for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point class of 2018 participate in physical exercises during Reception Day in West Point, New York July 2, 2014. During Reception Day, the new cadets begin the process of becoming West Point cadets and future U.S. Army officers. They undergo administrative processing, fittings for their initial issue of military clothing, receive haircuts, medical and physical evaluations and begin their first lessons in marching, military courtesy and discipline. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton (UNITED STATES - Tags: EDUCATION MILITARY)
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