Some experts have suggested that there is an “obesity paradox,” the idea that obese people live longer than those of normal weight. But a new study found that obesity was associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease and a two- to three-year shorter life span.
The study, in JAMA Cardiology, pooled data from 10 studies of 190,672 people followed from 1964 to 2015. Compared with those of normal weight, overweight men (body mass index of 25 to 29.9) had a 21 percent higher lifetime risk of cardiovascular disease and women a 32 percent higher risk. Among the obese (B.M.I. of 30 to 39.9), the risk was 67 percent higher for men and 85 percent higher for women, with even higher risk for those with a B.M.I. over 40.
Longevity in men who were overweight but not obese was similar to that of men of normal weight. But they had an increased risk of cardiovascular disease at a younger age.
“We were able to measure how much time is spent in healthy life years rather than just life span,” said the study’s senior author, Dr. Sadiya S. Khan, an assistant professor of medicine at Northwestern. “Maintaining a healthy B.M.I. is associated with a longer, healthier life, with less risk for cardiovascular disease.”
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