back to article 'Overweight' people live longer than those of 'ideal' weight

Cheerful news for those whose Body Mass Index (BMI) falls into the "overweight" range today - you will probably live longer than a person whose BMI is "ideal". Boffins in Canada and America revealed the new findings following a study of over 11,000 Canadians covering the last 12 years. Unsurprisingly, people whose BMI showed …


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  1. Fractured Cell

    Hang on a minute...

    My family are skinny, have always been skinny, and will probably will be skinny in years to come.

    and every single one of them have reached the milestone of 85 years old.

    now put that in your pipe and smoke it.

    (just dont hold me liable for any cancers that may occurr)

    Now go and buy me a pint. (why is it not guinness?!?)

  2. Raspy32

    BMI is flawed anyway

    The way that BMI is worked out actually means that the taller you are, the thinner you have to be in order to fit into the "Ideal" range. It also doesn't take into account that a lot of very athletic sportsmen (and women) would be classed as "Overweight" because of their muscle mass

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Maybe it has something to do with the fact that

    BMI is just a bunch of silly made up numbers floating in a bowl of dream juice.

  4. Peter Thompson

    I'm not overweight...

    I am underheight.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    My money's on Lewis.

    Giles Coren is probably OK if you want a stiff letter of complaint written to someone, but for a proper physical kicking I reckon Lewis would take him easy.

    I reckon Giles Coren comes from the Christian Bale school of verbally abusing people who can't fight back.

  6. Francis Fish

    Simple maths

    .... and I'm sure I read it first on El Reg somewhere

    BMI based on using a square and people are 3 dimensional. So it's biassed against the tall and the short.

  7. The Fuzzy Wotnot

    Olympic rowers break the BMI myth

    I believe our top Olympic rowers are technically classed as morbidly obese due to their muscle bulk in relation to their size. BMI is considered in much the same vein as Oracle hit ratios are to modern Oracle DBA's, a nice quaint idea but completely flawed and probably cause more damage than good if you attempt to use them for anything useful.

    You're best off getting a really good set of scales with the denisity measurement, they work out your body fat index percentage.

  8. tony72
    Thumb Up

    Just reclassify

    "Overweight" is the new "ideal".

  9. Ihre Papiere Bitte!!

    VERY big stick....

    5'10", 200lbs BMI 28.7 - higher than Lewis' (I make his to be 28 on the dot)

    Oh, and 4th dan black-belt.....!

    which icon? which icon?? Hmmmm.... THAT ONE!

  10. Number6

    BMI is useless anyway

    Any fule knows that mass is related to volume, which tends to be a cube law. Hence those who are tall or short will fall foul of BMI which is based on a square law.

  11. Matt 21

    I can relax a bit then

    So good news there, I won't gorge myself but can I be first in line for one of Sarah's chocie hobnobs of a morning? (there is no innuendo there for the Up Pompei lobby)

  12. Paw Bokenfohr

    I hate to be a pedant...

    ...well. Actually. No. I quite like it. But:

    Your correspondent is 6'3" and 16 stone, eg "overweight".

    Now, I'm WAY fatter than that, so I am grotesquely morbidly planet-like obese by my BMI calculation (at 19st) but I believe that that should be ie, and not eg.


    Actually, this whole post was just an excuse to use a new icon.

  13. mwk

    Body Volume Index measurements

    look like they'd make more sense, scanning the body in three dimensions to map the location of the mass as well, but the need for a big scanner cabinet will probably make it just too expensive.

  14. Liam Johnson

    Quality research

    You just have to love food research types. Here they go and publish some research that being “overweight” is better than being “normal”, but respond with “shock and horror” at the idea of putting on some weight to move from one band to the other.

    What is the point of publishing research if you are not even going to believe it yourself?

    Or from the other point of view, if you know BMI is crap and not a realistic measure of anything, why use it in your research in the first place?

  15. david bates

    Tell that to BUPA

    Wanting to charge me double because my BMI showed 'Overweight' rather than 'Ideal'.

    Now theres a company thats lost my business for all eternity.

    Heart icon cus I was at the gym this morning....

  16. Jon Wilson
    Big Brother

    *Your correspondent is 6'3" and 16 stone, eg "overweight".

    ..and doesn't know the difference between "e.g." and "i.e."

    Big Grammar Brother is watching you...

  17. Torben Mogensen

    Definition of "normal"

    I don't think the conclusion should be that you live longer by being slightly overweight, but that the definition of "normal" weight should be revised. BMI doesn't differentiate between muscle mass and fat and it doesn't take age into account. I have seen reports indicate that the ideal weight increases slightly by age, so this should be a part of the measure.

    That BMI requires you to be relatively slimmer if you are taller is not a bug: Added height is usually mostly in the legs, so you should not be proportionally heavier as an overall measure. Also, your bones' ability to carry weight doesn't increase with their length (rather the opposite), so you should not use added height as an excuse to increase weight (except a little - your leg and arm muscles should be larger if you have longer limbs).

  18. Pavlovs well trained dog


    is a complete crock of shyte

    I have short dumpy legs and a very long torso - so my BMI is 36, but my % body fat is less than 30%

    so yeah, I'm portly, but not clinically obese. I also can't find many shirts long enough..

    try telling the insurance company that

    (ps, I'm also 6'4" - but I work out 5 x / week)

  19. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

    Feeling a bit discrimimated against...

    Where is the BMI for me. Coz I've 4 legs, I'm 28 stone, 18 hands tall with a penchant for hay and carrots. Mind you, my life expectancy is tied to my upcoming performance at Burley so it probabaly doesn't matter.

    @ Ihre Papiere Bitte!! - Black belt my arse, bet I can kick harder


  20. Citizen Kaned

    that is because....

    fat bastards never do any physical work - they ask us to do it for them....

    btw - 6'3" and 15 stone isnt even near overweight...

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    5 Foot 8, and 15 stone 8.

    It's all loose muscle.

    At my lightest in adult life, during my interview at British "You're too clever to be a pilot, sorry" Airways I was still 11 stone 4 lbs.

    Last year, after training for 16 weeks for the marathon, I was still 14 stone 6.

    My view is that I'm going to die of a heart attack aged 75 at best. Who wants to spend 20 years in a home with dementia?

  22. Stuart 2
    Thumb Down

    BMI does make sense.

    The register's comments that BMI require two dimensional people are incorrect.

    BMI assumes that weight is proportional to volume.

    Then weight/height^2 is proportional to the radius of a person, i.e. how fat they are.

  23. Yorkshirepudding

    jabba the hutt

    im a big fat twat and i do most of the work myself.

    i can do most manual things a human can do

    yaaaaay an excuse to use the imperial pint icon

  24. DanP
    Paris Hilton

    Yeah but...

    I'd rather be damned sexy for 60 years than a lardo for 99...

    Paris: damned sexy

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Thank you El Reg

    Best news I've had all day. Pass the doughnuts

  26. Jared Vanderbilt
    Paris Hilton

    People thin down in the terminal phase ...

    These reaper-tards looked at death certificates. Most people thin down in the closing days of life due to the ailments that kill them. A scientific approach would be to look at people's weight 5 years before their death. Lets not forget the fat guy in The Life of Brian. His postmortem weight was 60 lbs.

    Paris: not a pound spent on gray matter

  27. Anonymous Coward


    What gives you the silly idea that you're "damn sexy" now?

  28. Piezor

    made my day

    now where's that kebab

  29. Liam Johnson

    @Stuart 2

    >>BMI does make sense.

    No, it doesn't. In fact, so many people agree that it makes little or no sense that it is a wonder it keeps getting used. Well, not really, easy has always been more popular than correct.

    >>Then weight/height^2 is proportional to the radius of a person


    >>i.e. how fat they are.


    You are assuming a 2-dimensional person with 3-dimensional fat, which most people are not.

  30. Anonymous Coward

    What a load....

    of fat ona plate...

    Doing a quick calculation after weighting myself at the gym this morning... I'm apparently "Obese", yet I'm quite slim and toned.

    Why.. well body muscle is 18% denser than fat, hence it weights more... this could be the reasoning to why healthy obese people live longer...

  31. Jan 13 Silver badge

    @Jon Wilson

    > ...doesn't know the difference between "e.g." and "i.e."

    Well who does nowadays? It's a lost cause.

    Why don't people without the benefit of a classical education just write "for example" and 'that is"?

    Plain English innit:-)

  32. ElNumbre
    Dead Vulture


    We all expire at some point. I could avoid the risk of being killed on the way to the airport by avoiding going on holiday, but I like running the risk of getting skin cancer. Life has this habit of getting you in the end - you may as well...

    Oh hello Mr Death......

  33. Eugene Goodrich
    Paris Hilton

    Link or cause?

    Have they established that being in the overweight category causes longer life, or only that it is linked to longer life? If it's only linked to longer life, then purposefully putting one's self into that category when one would normally be in another category may not confer any benefit. (In fact, the only result it would have would be to cause the statistical analysis, if reperformed at a point in the future, to cease seeing a benefit related to being in that category.)

    Paris, because I bet she had this same complaint and won't be hitting the cobbler to "move up a notch" until the jury returns, either.

  34. Steve 63


    I`m not Fat I am Big Boned....

    Also reminds me of that simpsons episode "King Sized Homer" where he said to Homer when he was buying his Fat dress.

    Homer: I'm looking for something loose and billowy, something comfortable for my first day of work.

    Salesman: Work, huh? Let me guess. Computer programmer, computer magazine columnist, something with computers?

    Homer: Well, I use a computer.

    Salesman: [quietly, to self] Yeah, what's the connection? Must be the non-stop sitting and snacking.


  35. Anonymous Coward


    "It also doesn't take into account that a lot of very athletic sportsmen (and women) would be classed as "Overweight" because of their muscle mass"

    Actually, studies done on American Football players suggest that muscle weight is just as bad for you as fat-based weight so in this respect BMI is valid.

  36. Gary 34


    "Actually, studies done on American Football players suggest that muscle weight is just as bad for you as fat-based weight so in this respect BMI is valid."

    Does it take into account diet, steroids, aerobic capacity, physical intensity of work, etc,etc?


  37. Nicholas Ettel

    Mass vs Weight

    @Stuart 2

    "BMI assumes that weight is proportional to volume.

    Then weight/height^2 is proportional to the radius of a person, i.e. how fat they are."

    But weight is NOT proportional to volume - mass is. Mass /= weight. Weight = mass * gravity; and, consequently, my weight in New Orleans is NOT equal to my weight in Denver... which means that my BMI in New Orleans MUST be different than my BMI in Denver. Therefore, the only conclusion is that BMI, not being an absolute measurement, is extremely flawed.

    Density = mass / volume;

    mass / volume /= mass * gravity / volume

    A 6'4" person with 5% body fat weighing 224 lbs WILL NOT have the same density or volume as a 6'4" person with 30% body fat weighing 224 lbs, but they WILL have the same BMI. How does this make any sense whatsoever?

    It's really, really irritating when people believe that mass and weight are the same "measurements" but in different units.

  38. The Indomitable Gall

    Re: @Raspy


    "Actually, studies done on American Football players suggest that muscle weight is just as bad for you as fat-based weight so in this respect BMI is valid."

    And does that necessarily have anything to do with muscle mass, or might it be related to any of:

    * high incidence of steroid abuse among the demographic

    * high incidence of brain-jarring, bone-shattering and soft-tissue-mangling injuries due to the use of safety gear as an assault weapon in the sport

    * diet

    * recreational drug use

    All research into American footballers shows us is what American footballers are like.

  39. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    Shocking news

    That 100% of all lives end in death

    However, if you eat a fairly mixed diet and do the things you enjoy, you will find life a lot better than morbidly watching the weight scales and wondering if you could eat 1/2 a mars bar without going over your illogically set BMI.

    PS I'm morbidly obese according to my BMI, but can still yomp up a local hill a few times with a 55lb backpack on...... now... if only someone would let me have an SA-80-b

  40. CABVolunteer

    Was the study just a direct correlation between BMI & death rate?

    Did the survey include factors such as wealth & access to health care? Wealthy people have near unlimited access to food, hence the average westerner is getting steadily more overweight; but wealthy people have better health care and greater life expectancy - just look at the Dept of Health's Jarman statistics: poor people die sooner.

    So are we seeing a survey result which proves life expectancy is linked to BMI or some other factor which closely correlates to BMI?

    [6' 1" and 21st]

  41. Al 4

    BMI junk science

    When I went in for a physical a while back my doctor basically told me that the BMI is worthless as a guide and said that I was a good example why. At 54 I have a body fat percentage of 8%-9% but my BMI value says that I'm borderline obese because of my weight. So basically the BMI has no relationship to the health of a person which would explain why the BMI claims healthy people are sick and sick people are healthy.

  42. Michael C

    OK, now correlate that with other factors...

    My guess, the "overweight" crowd not only included a sifficient number of athletes and former athletes, and a range of people like me who are simply taller than most, but it also included a range of people with lower stress indexes, better overall diets (people who diet heavy tend to be deficient in many key nutrients due to eating the same foods consistantly for long periods).

    I'd also like to see some correlation to how many of the "ideal" people consumed large amounts of artificial sugars and other synthetic "healthier" ingredients than those in the "overweight" range eating regualr everyday foods.

  43. Anonymous Coward

    Does anyone care?

    (1) BMI doesn't really matter and isn't worth arguing about.

    (2) Skinny people just SEEM to live longer since they piss off everyone else.

    (3) I'm not fat, i'm fluffy.

  44. Sly

    another vote for BMI is bunk

    I'm a jolly fellow with a well rounded pad up front and just in the middle of the "overweight" area. I've always been there... and most people in my family are there... and we generally live to be at least 80-90. Good eatin and good fun to keep the blood flowin is the way to go. if you're movin around lots (exercise and all that) and still consider "overweight" then ignore the BMI numbers. you'll do well. Just don't forget about seein your Doc to get the blood work done once a year so you know the internal numbers too. don't wanna let the silent killers get a foothold now.

  45. Quirkafleeg

    Re: Mass vs Weight

    “A 6'4" person with 5% body fat weighing 224 lbs…”

    That's… er, <calculate> 16st. Which quite a few of us find a lot more meaningful.

    Why do you 'Merkians use only lb, not st & lb? (And don't you mean 76"?)

  46. Charles Manning

    Anecdotal evidence

    All the people I know that have died of diseases before reaching 40 were fitness junkies that died of various cancers etc.

    All the under 40s I know that have died of other causes were also fit. The 2 guys that got killed in the Army were fit, but we can probably discount death by high speed metal from this survey. The motor cyclist was fit too, even the suicide bloke was fit.

    All the fat bastards are still going strong.

  47. Chris Hedley Silver badge

    Shut yer face, Coren, and have another pie

    I like Giles Coren, but if the reportard wants to tax away my pie I'll roll on him. Bets are off as to whether his diminutive stature will withstand my BMI of 350 or whatever it is.

    Pint of bitter, since there's /still/ no pie icon. What are you thinking, El Reg? Are you diet nazis as well?

  48. gollux


    Totally cool to know. I've been slagged over the years for being slightly dumpy by my boss. Well, two years ago, one of his buff fitness freak bewtifol peeple friends kicked the can, did a tuck and roll coming off a bicycle and expired of a massive heart attack. The guy's doctor was mystified that someone so fit and healthy croaked. Age is kicking my bosses fanny as well, but I just keep on trucking. I plan to go out as a fat man on a bicycle, just puttering along, keeping active, but not pathologically freaked out about the body nature rudely dealt me and dieing of anxiety induced illness over attempting to attain someone's mythological Greek god ideas of what makes a functioning human being.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Eat healthy....

    Eat healthy, excercise, die anyway.

  50. Steve Hill

    You don't need BMI to know to lay off the pies and pints

    I was at the gym yesterday for my annual shot on the fatbastard-o-meter...

    I'm 6'8" and 24 stone, for the record, I can row 2000m in a shade under 7 minutes.

    The FB-o-meter says my lean mass is spot on, and my lard is about 30 kg too much, which is sounds right. But then, the beer belly is a dead give-away of that... If my BMI was to be 25 (top end of "normal") I'd be 16.5 stone and unwell looking, which is a lot different to the 19.5 stone I should really be...

  51. teebie

    That isn't why BMI doesn't make sense

    If I eat an unhealthy amount of lard pies I'll get wider, and, erm, longer, but no taller, so I'll be expanding in 2 dimensions, not 3, and the square makes sense.

    Mass is related to volume which is related to width cubed, but fattiness is related to lardiness which is closer to width squared for a given individual.

    BMI doesn't make sense because it doesn't take account of fat vs muscle, or that people of different heights have different proprotions, or the fact that people are different, and what is healthy for one person isn't necessarily healthy for another.

  52. Marc-Oliver Kalis

    Coren Giles? One should actually feel sorry for him

    Being a Kraut myself, I am very much aware what happened in WW II. As a matter of fact my grandfather was a Nazi..... BUT.... only until he realised what happened behind the scenes.

    During the actual Holocaust (Reichskristallnacht) he actually helped save many Jews from the SS and the GeStaPo.

    I also have polish relatives and one can only marvel, how a renowned publication like The Times can actually have this little uneducated (at least when it comes to WW II and obviously many other things) write as much nonsense as he does.

    But specially his completely unqualified and uneducated comment about "Chocky Tax" just shows, what sort of inferiority complex he must have. I suspect, that he actually comes from a sad childhood.

    He was always rebellious (and is even proud of it...).

    This in itself already shows, that he is nothing but a failure. maybe not in society, but in terms of being an example.

    Many of our youth are undisciplined, rebellious (way over board), have a lack of standards (especially moral ones), no self-respect, and just have twisted minds.

    It is not really surprising with examples like him!!!

    I know I am going to get flamed for some of the comments, but this is what I genuinely believe!

  53. Anonymous Coward

    Oh bollox

    Does that mean we have to suffer Fatty Ballmer longer than is necessary ?

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Kalis the Kraut

    Kalis the Kraut said : "He was always rebellious (and is even proud of it...).

    This in itself already shows, that he is nothing but a failure".

    Pity a lot more of you krauts weren't more rebellious when it counted, maybe then we wouldnt have all the "useful" data you obviously like to quote from the death camps.

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