German Scientists Contend That Overweight People Actually Live Longer


German scientists have an interesting take on the whole “obesity is killing us” message. I can understand hoping that this is true after spending a few days in a Munich biergaten and dining on pretzels and sausages but I was a bit astounded to read this.  The Germans actually take it a step further and say that being overweight may actually increase your lifespan. So what is up with this new spin on eating your way to a longer life?


It isn’t as simple as it sounds and in fact studies like this add to an ever increasing confusion in the health field and general population. Studies catalogued in the research area of TrekDesk Treadmill Desk have shown that one can be metabolically healthy and overweight at the same time provided activity levels are maintained but this covers some new territory from what we are used to reading.


Let’s take a look at the study itself. A majority of Germans are overweight with an average BMI ranging from 25 to 29; of these 20% are obese (BMI of 30 or more). Scientists from the University of Hambug looked at 42 independent studies in Germany measuring the relationship between excess weight, chronic disease and mortality.   While obesity was shown to increase death rates by 20%, being overweight had no bearing on risk of death.


Being overweight increased a German’s risk of coronary disease by 20% and being obese increased this risk to 50% but these risks lessened as the study participants aged (genetic advantages perhaps?).  Having a higher BMI actually indicated a lower risk of bone and hip fracture. The surprise came in the rates of cancer among German men who were extremely obese (BMI exceeding 40). Their risk of cancer was equal to their normal weight counterparts and men who were merely overweight had a 7% lower risk of death than normal weight and extremely obese men.


Apparently carrying some extra weight may not be the worse thing for your body as far as overall life span. Risks of mortality starts increasing if you hit the obesity mark (20% higher) and extremely obese (200% higher).   Still these findings are a bit confusing and conflict with other studies that warn of the dangers of added weight.


Surprisingly one of the most important evaluation criteria was left out of this study and that is the amount of daily activity undertaken.   We would like to see more studies that would evaluate the activity levels of all participants including those that are average weight. Is the measurement of mortality skewed by a potentially lower lifespan for inactive average weight participants?


No sense in waiting around for the science to establish the winner in this regard. We are betting our money on not fretting about a perfect BMI and focusing more on achieving a WHR (Waist to Height Ratio) of 50% and minimum activity levels. This means if you are 6 feet tall your waist should not exceed 36″ and you should be striving for a minimum of 10,000 steps per day. Of course if you are having trouble fitting that into your day there is always the TrekDesk Treadmill Desk there to help you.

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