Many of the people reading my newsletter consider themselves “overweight.”
And if you go to the doctor as most of my readers do, the doctor will usually tell you “lose some weight.”
With so many of our readers affected, I wondered if simply being overweight is as unhealthy as they say. How to live a healthy life
They think that being skinny is how to live a healthy life.
I just want to explore whether or not you will live longer if you weigh less.
And the results are going to surprise, maybe even stagger you.
This is what I love about this job!
I get to spend my days doing this kind of research and investigating things.
Sometimes I feel like a detective.
Nobody is ever tying these clues together.
You go to a foot doctor, or finger doctor, or a doctor specializing in the liver.
But there’s nobody that’s in charge of the whole man.
It’s crazy, isn’t it?
So our first stop is going to be looking at the risk of losing weight when you’re really, really old.
Then we’ll get to healthy people — and to people who were not old.
In this study, the researchers took 344 very old people and followed them for three or four years.
At the moment I am writing this, my dad is actually in a nursing home, and he is 94 years old today.
He’s not part of the study, but I just realized that I have to call my dad.
Although, he won’t be able to hear me and won’t remember who I am.
Anyway, back to the study.
A little over half of the study participants died during the study.
So here’s the point.
The real predictor of people dying was low lean mass.
They call it BCM, body cell mass.
Basically, it’s the amount of you that’s you, without that fat.
BCM is the weight of all your organs, muscles, bones and blood — without the fat.
And it can be pretty easily measured at home with a special type of scale.
They use that here to figure out people’s lean mass.
Participants who had high lean mass had comparable survival rates in all LEVELS of fat (bmi levels).
So even people that were fat could live longer, but they needed to have plenty of lean mass.
If you have enough lean mass, then it doesn’t matter how much fat you do or don’t have.
According to this study, you can live a long life.
And that was for those who are very old and sick people.
But what about people who are fat, but not sick?
These would be the people that we’d consider to be “metabolically healthy obese.”
This is a study that was built around a huge population of 34,000 people being followed for decades.
The researchers looked to see what can be discovered about mortality and health.
This is the NHANES III study.
The findings of the study we’re looking at are quite striking.
First of all, people who are obese and unhealthy have a much shorter lifespan.
We can all understand that.
By unhealthy, I mean people who are obese who have diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and so forth.
However, there are plenty of people who are obese who don’t have any of these problems.
Surely, someone who is fat will not live as long as someone who is thin?
But it’s not so.
Keep in mind that this is one of many studies that show the same thing.
People who are healthy and fat lived just as long as people who are healthy and thin.
There is almost NO DIFFERENCE in mortality rate or lifespan between healthy thin people and healthy fat people.
Healthy obese people do not have significantly increased risk of all-cause mortality over a followup of approximately 15 years (the study period).
It is possible that eventually these obese healthy people will become unhealthy and will die younger than thin people.
The study only covers 15 years, so there’s no way to know if they became unhealthy later.
But there are many other studies that have already gone on much longer — they show the same thing.
Current findings are consistent with Calori and colleagues and Ortega and colleagues  in which no significant increases in mortality risk of healthy obese participants compared to healthy lean participants were found.
So it’s true, even over decades.
Fat people can live just as long as thin people can.
The key is to be healthy.
And the key to health and long life?
You need to have plenty of healthy lean mass.
This is the edge that big people have.
Bigger people have bigger muscles, bigger organs, more meat on their bones.
And it’s the organs and muscles that your body uses in the formation of lean mass.
Lean body mass determines how long you live and how fast your metabolism is.
And a healthy metabolism is the most important thing about healthy lifestyles.
The fat is only along for the ride, so to speak.
Even people that get cancer will live longer if they’re fatter.
Because most deaths from cancer are not due to the tumors, but due to cachexia.
Cachexia is that process of wasting away.
And you are much less likely to waste away when you have healthy lean mass and some fat on you.
So, the next time the doctor tells you that you must lose weight to be healthy, you know better.
The secret to healthy life is to keep your lean mass high and recover your metabolic health.
If you can become metabolically healthy, you can be fat and enjoy great longevity.
And you can live longer and healthier without having any problems with your body.
All-Cause Mortality Risk of Metabolically Healthy Obese Individuals in NHANES III