Those Who Gradually Get Overweight Live Longest: New Study Suggest

A new study from Ohio State University suggests that people who start adulthood with a normal range of body mass index (BMI) and slowly put on weight later in life but never get obese tend to live longer than the usual who overweight and get obsessed.

image showing women measuring body BMI.

In this study, researchers used BMI, a rule of thumb, to categorize a person as underweight, normal weight, overweight and obese.

BMI is a measurement or indicator based on a person’s height and weight to categorize a person.

The study was concluded on two generations of the participants in the Framingham Heart Study, which followed the medical histories of the residents of one city in Massachusetts and their children for decades.

The study has been done on large participants of 4,576 people and 3,753 of their children in the Framingham Heart Study’s original cohort.

The heart study started in 1948 and followed participants through 2010. Participants’ children were followed from 1971 to 2014.

The original cohort members had almost all died by the end of the study, so the results can uncover how BMI evolves over all of the adulthood and provide a more accurate estimate than previous studies of how obesity is linked to mortality, Zheng said.

Adults who start their adulthood as obese and continue to put on weight had the highest death rate.

The study showed some warning trends for the younger generation. Youngers who are becoming overweight and obese at their earlier age tend to have death linked to increasing obesity.

Hui Zheng, the lead author of the study and associate professor of sociology at The Ohio State University, stated, “The impact of weight gain on mortality is complex. It depends on both the timing and the magnitude of weight gain and where BMI started,”

“The main message is that for those who start at a normal weight in early adulthood, gaining a modest amount of weight throughout life and entering the overweight category in later adulthood can actually increase the probability of survival.” further said.

The researcher looked at the data from the age of 31 to 80 in both generations; The focused measure was BMI.

After calculating the data, the researcher found out that people who started normal weight and moved to be overweight later in life but never obese were most likely to survive.

Then the second comes those who maintain their BMI throughout their life. Then those who were overweight and lost weight came next, mainly the older generation.

Zheng said that there’s a problem for the younger generation in the study.

“Even though the mortality risks associated with obesity trajectories have decreased across the generations, their contributions to population deaths increased from 5.4% in the original cohort to 6.4% in the offspring cohort,” Zheng said.

Source: Ohio State University. “Survival tip: Start at normal weight and slowly add pounds: Study finds those who gradually get overweight live longest.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 February 2021. <>.

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