How bad is it, really, to be fat?

People who are overweight stand a greater risk of dying from some diseases, but not for othersCourtesy Roger Cullman

Pretty bad. People who are overweight are more likely to die from diabetes and kidney failure than the general population. And people who are obese are more likely to die from heart disease and certain types of cancer.

These common-sense truths were reconfirmed last week by a report from the Centers for Disease Control, which analyzed decades of data from 39,000 Americans. However, the news was not all bad. For instance, obese people had the same overall mortality rate from cancer as the population as a whole. Which means that while they were at greater risk of dying from cancers that attack fatty tissues (including the breast, uterus, ovaries, kidneys, colon, throat and pancreas), they were actually less likely to die from other forms of cancer.

For folks who are overweight but not obese, the picture is even more complicated. Neither cancer nor heart disease killed this group at higher-than-average rates. In fact, researchers found lower mortality in this group for all other causes of death, including infectious diseases and accidents.

The researchers aren’t sure why this should be. One theory is that carrying a little extra fat – but not too much – gives the bodies the energy reserves it needs to fight off illness.

Another possibility is raised by the way the study defined “overweight” and “obese.” They did not measure the patients’ body fat directly, but rather used a mathematical calculation known as the Body Mass Index or BMI. This widely-used tool gives doctors a rough estimate of a person’s body fat – a number over 25 classifies a person as “overweight.” A BMI 30 or higher qualifies as “obese.”

The trouble is, BMI basically divides weight by height (with a couple other calculations thrown in for fun). The greater the weight, the higher the BMI for a given height. The problem is, people can add weight as fat, or they can add weight as muscle. Somebody who exercises a lot may be strong, healthy… and have a BMI that qualifies as overweight.

If that’s the case, then that would explain why the “overweight” group fights off disease and injury so well. Which is good news if you’re fit, but not so good news if you’re flabby.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I am overweight and I cry myself to sleep every night because where ever I go people always point and laugh, my problem is that I eat because I am sad, and I am sad because I eat. Bottom line don't make fun of fat people, it is extremely mean.

posted on Thu, 11/15/2007 - 4:58pm
apey1997's picture
apey1997 says:

i dont care if your fat, its whats inside that counts. So dont bother when people laugh and point at you, they'll regret it in the future. And if anybody else sees this, its true dont be mean you'll regret, here lets put it this way, if you were over weight would you like it if people pointed and laughed at you? well dont be rube be kind. this came from my 10 year old heart, remember that. well i guess if you are wondering i am not over weight at all i mean i weigh 70 pounds, its just i've been laughed at before and it doesnt feel good. well i thought that would just tell you something.

posted on Thu, 11/15/2007 - 7:36pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

You weigh 70 pounds??? But, yeah, I agree. No one should EVER laugh at anyone for ANY reason.

posted on Fri, 02/01/2008 - 8:47pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

they should take care of themselves, then they wouldnt have to worry about being called "names"

posted on Thu, 01/17/2008 - 8:41pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

That's not nice!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! People shouldn't do that. Hasn't anyone been taught ANYTHING?!?!

posted on Sun, 01/27/2008 - 4:59pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

That is soo wrong! Put that thing back in your shirt!

posted on Fri, 11/16/2007 - 12:59pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

no 1 should judge peolpe about being fat because it dones not matter

posted on Fri, 11/16/2007 - 9:04pm
apey1997's picture
apey1997 says:

is anybody gonna reply to my comment???

posted on Sat, 11/17/2007 - 1:31pm
Ben's picture
Ben says:

I know I wouldn't let myself get fat.
If you get sad because you are fat and are fat because you are sad; why not get on an anti-depressant and start working out?

It is wonderful that you are able to look past some being fat or not; but an eating disorder is nothing to ignore.

posted on Mon, 11/19/2007 - 2:29pm
abigail jones's picture
abigail jones says:

you shouldn' t judge people for being fat. but it isn't healthy, so we should help those who are obese, not descrimnate against them.

posted on Wed, 11/21/2007 - 12:58pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

being overweight sucks big time my mother raised me that way i cant help it when people come over and start calling you names it hurts bad dont do it i almost hurt myself till a friend came and helped me

posted on Fri, 11/23/2007 - 9:33pm
Jess M.'s picture
Jess M. says:

well, i am 5 foot 2 inches, and weigh 145 or so. i am technically overweight according to bmi, but i don't think i am, and neither does my doctor. i came from a line of short, stocky people.
i did weigh about 20 pounds less in high school, which was 5 years ago, but i developed VERY early, 5th grade, i believe, and when i girl develops at a younger age, she puts on more weight earlier.
i also eat healthy and exercise three to four times a week, so after all this, would i still be unhealthy? i think not. the bmi is a load of #[email protected]?!, in my humble opinion.

posted on Wed, 12/12/2007 - 4:58pm
Jan_Ice's picture
Jan_Ice says:

I am overweight and honestly have been my entire life. I can't be like other people and blame it on my parents, because I am the one who decided to keep eating and not exercising. I can't say that I like being overweight, I mean who does. Who honestly loves having to pay a lot more money for your clothes, sometimes it is hard to breathe when you walk up stairs and being looked at differently because you are overweight and not as skinny as the person standing next to you. I think it is wrong to completely make fun of someone because they are overweight. A person should be judged on who they are (their character, personality and how they treat others) Sure some people can say that we choose it cause we are not doing anything about it, but you try loosing weight and then tell me how easy it is. When you try losing weight you change your lifestyle completely and it isn't easy. It is like telling someone who is right handed that you can no longer write with your right hand that you must do everything with your left now. It is something that takes time for anyone. Sure I am trying to loose weight but that is to be healthy not so that I am visually appealing for others to look at.

posted on Thu, 01/24/2008 - 6:49pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

If I were you I would ignor what people say about you! And eat healthier foods like fruit and run around the block once or twice then the weight will come off soon!!!!

posted on Fri, 01/25/2008 - 1:55pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Its not so easy to loose weight because chocolate cake is so good

posted on Fri, 01/25/2008 - 9:05pm
james's picture
james says:

Its not nice to say certain people are fat. In America its kinda hard not to be. AKWARD

posted on Fri, 01/25/2008 - 9:02pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

people think "jeese, that kid dosent need to eat anymore! lose some weight!" but what they dont understand is iverweight kids neet to eat still, they cant just STOP eating, and its not that easy to lose weight! Im 14, 5 4 150pounds of fat...

posted on Wed, 02/13/2008 - 1:03am
Gene's picture
Gene says:

[Irony generator "on."]

Maybe we shouldn't be so anxious to reduce obesity. A new study shows that overweight people tend to die young. No surprise there: being overweight can cause a host of health problems. But, the study found, people who die young tend to need less medical care over the course of their short lives than healthy people do over their much longer lives.

Obviously, the way to reduce health care costs is to just kill everybody before they turn 30. That's how the society in Logan's Run could afford all those nifty spandex uniforms.

[Irony generator "off."]

There's a reason they call economics "the dismal science."

posted on Thu, 03/06/2008 - 1:28pm
hawa's picture
hawa says:

Fatness is not bad because not everybody who overweight can be in the risk dying and i don't think that people should be overweight people because it can happen to anybody

posted on Thu, 03/13/2008 - 10:18am
Gene's picture
Gene says:

While I agree that all people are entitled to their dignity and deserve basic respect, nevertheless, being overweight is linked to serious health problems.

posted on Fri, 03/14/2008 - 10:26am
Voice of Reason's picture
Voice of Reason says:

My only question is as to what we should do about the obese. Research has shown that it may not be the fault of a person for there health. That it is possible that genetical predisposition has had a hand in this. This may be fixed. Further information of this would be nice, as to present a solution, not a problem.

posted on Fri, 03/21/2008 - 2:11pm
diamond2008's picture
diamond2008 says:

I don't think anybody have the right to make fun of anybody for whatever reason.That is so rude nobody is perfect everybody has issues maybe his issue is he fat so what!!!

posted on Wed, 03/26/2008 - 3:05pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

Science has discovered another health risk associated with being overweight: increased risk of contracting Alzheimer's.

posted on Thu, 03/27/2008 - 10:19am
Candice_318's picture
Candice_318 says:

I like being fat it's awesome...

Sponsered in part by
IM AWESOME Productions

posted on Thu, 03/27/2008 - 10:20am
diamond2008's picture
diamond2008 says:

I think that it shouldn't matter how fat you are as long as you can handle your body

posted on Thu, 05/15/2008 - 10:17am
kali0082's picture
kali0082 says:

So maybe it doesn't decrease their chances of getting the other kinds of cancer, it just means that they die before those other kinds of cancer develop...

posted on Fri, 11/07/2008 - 10:11am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

im 13 years old and 150 pounds but i am healthy. just becuase i have a little bit more luggage dont mean im fat. all it comes down to is what you eat and how much are you eating. ive been depressed and threw up after every meal. i have learned to be happy with myself but no person should go through what i did to be happy with thierselves. im not goin to let anybody point aand laugh at me and if they do im not going to cry about it. the only thing to do is go on with your life...

posted on Sat, 02/28/2009 - 12:52am
i love our earth's picture
i love our earth says:

i hate the fact that we are losing so much water
kids need to do what they can to help prevent us from damaging the water supply that we have right now.

posted on Sat, 02/28/2009 - 1:20pm

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