Dutch researchers suggest obesity might not affect life expectancy
A new study conducted by Erasmus MC in Rotterdam states that, on average, people affected by obesity can expect to live just as long as people with a healthy weight.
The Dutch researchers, in collaboration with colleagues in the United States, suggest that overweight people grow just as old, on average, as people with a healthy weight.
The findings were based on a life expectancy analysis of roughly 6.500 participants in a long-term Rotterdam-based study.
Surprising results and conflicting theories
The team at Erasmus MC found the results unexpected. These findings come in direct contrast to earlier studies that indicate obese and overweight people die younger on average.
For example, an authoritative study published less than a month earlier, in online medical journal The Lancet, proposed that all-cause mortality rises with an increased BMI (Body Mass Index).
Despite their differences, both studies were in agreement on one fact at least - that having fat reserves can help older people survive serious hospitalisation.
Study receives mixed reception
The release of the Rotterdam study, while initially energetically received by the Dutch media, is now being analysed with closer scrutiny amid claims of sensationalisation and attention seeking.
Journalist Ronald Veldhuizen has pointed out that the study focused on mortality and diabetes in overweight elderly people, with an average age of 70, rather than the effect of obesity at all ages.
There is also a vast array of other factors that come into play when analysing the link between obesity and mortality.
These include access to affordable healthcare, the quality of healthcare in one's country and whether doctors know how to provide the right kind of care for overweight people.
Limited population group
The team at Erasmus MC cautioned that their findings must not be assumed to have widespread application, as their study subjects consisted mainly of ageing, white participants living in Rotterdam.
They also stressed the importance of maintaining a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle. Being overweight has proven links with harmful medical conditions such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and certain forms of cancer.
The researchers have stated that more research is necessary to support their findings.