Obesity Paradox Debunked: Obese People Don’t Actually Live Longer, New Study Says

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A team of researchers just challenged the very concept of Obesity Paradox. According to their study, overweight or obese people don’t actually live longer lives — they’re just diagnosed with heart disease earlier, that’s all.  ( Spencer Platt | Getty Images )

It turns out obese people who are diagnosed with cardiovascular disease don't live longer than those with a normal, healthy weight.

For a long time, researchers have found it difficult to explain exactly what the Obesity Paradox is, dumbfounded by the notion that putting on excess weight somehow adds extra years to one's life. The answer? Easy. It's simply not true.

Debunking The Obesity Paradox

A new study, published Feb. 28 in the JAMA Cardiology journal, sheds light on what's actually happening: overweight and obese individuals are diagnosed with heart disease at younger ages. As a result, it seems as if they live longer lives than normal-weight folks.

Northwestern University's Sadiya Khan led a team of researchers to look at data provided by the Cardiovascular Disease Lifetime Risk Pooling Project, gathering information from nearly 200,000 people who didn't have heart disease when researchers began examining them. They were tracked for 10 years, providing researchers 3.2 million years' worth of data, as Los Angeles Times reports.

Higher BMI Means A Greater Risk for Cardiovascular Events

They divided the participants based on age and weight. Those between 40 to 59 and who were obese or overweight had higher chances of suffering from a heart attack compared with folks with normal weight. Out of all the middle-aged males, 37 percent of participants who were overweight suffered a cardiovascular event during the study, while 47 percent of those who were obese suffered the same thing. For perspective, only 32 percent of normal-weight males went through a cardiovascular event.

As for the females, 27.9 percent who were overweight suffered from a heart attack during the study, while 38.8 percent of participants who were obese had similar cardiovascular events occur to them. Only 21.5 percent of normal-weight females experienced any sort of cardiovascular event, notably.

The researchers concluded, after factoring in important facets such as age, race, and others, that there's a greater risk of heart problems for people who have higher body mass indexes, or BMI.

Most importantly, the data showed researchers a link between normal weight and a longer life. Middle-aged males with a normal BMI lived 5.6 years longer than morbidly obese males, while females in the same age and weight category lived 2 years longer than morbidly obese females.

Similar percentages occurred in other age groups, according to the researchers. By factoring in a person's health from a point in their lives earlier than the moment they were diagnosed with heart disease, the obesity paradox can be debunked.

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