Research: Obese do not live longer than normal weight individuals.  


Despite prior junk research indicating an advantage to the obese, they do not live to.  



In recent years, there have been a few studies that claimed that obese people live longer once they get ill with a disease.  In fact, prior studies have demonstrated lower all-cause mortality in individuals who are overweight compared with those with normal body mass index, but whether this may come at the cost of greater burden of cardiovascular disease is unknown.  The concept is based on the belief that they have a larger reserve to survive the stress of the illness.  This concept partially plays off the belief that it is better to fat and healthy and than slim and unhealthy.  While this is partially true, people take this belief to an extreme and try to use to back up their one bad habits.   The fact is that it is better to healthy and slim and a new study appears to back this up.



A new study debunks this belief[1].  Both sides of this belief make some sense, but the fact is that obesity should increase cardiac demand and thus put more stress on your heart and decrease longevity.  Before this study, some studies seemed to indicate that people who have been diagnosed with the cardiovascular disease live longer if they are overweight than people who are is weight at the time of diagnosis.  The problem is this is just plan false.  

In the study[1], which is pending publication in JAMA Cardiology, researchers found that obese people live shorter lives and have a greater proportion of life with cardiovascular disease than those who are not overweight.  This new study, which looks at prior population base studies, shows similar longevity between normal weight and overweight people, but a higher risk for those who are overweight of developing cardiovascular disease during their lifespan and more years spent with cardiovascular disease.

Central Obesity

Central Obesity

The prior studies have created a lot of confusion among patients who believe that being slim might hinder longevity[2].  This study clearly indicates that this is not true.  Patient who are overweight have higher odds of a stroke, heart attack, heart failure or dying from heart disease and normal weight middle-aged men also lived 1.9 years longer than obese men and six years longer than morbidly obese.  For women, normal weight middle-aged women lived 1.4 years longer than overweight women, 3.4 years longer than obese women and six years longer than morbidly obese women.

The bottom line: Obesity is associated with shorter longevity and significantly increases the risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality compared with a patient with a normal weight. Being overweight is associated with significantly increased risk of developing heart attack at an earlier age.  I recommend you use this study to motivate you to weight loss. 


S. Khan et al., “Association of Body Mass Index With Lifetime Risk of Cardiovascular Disease and Compression of Morbidity.,” JAMA Cardiol, Feb. 2018. [PubMed]
E. Yu et al., “Weight History and All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality in Three Prospective Cohort Studies.,” Ann Intern Med, vol. 166, no. 9, pp. 613–620, May 2017. [PubMed]
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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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