Study after study now shows that overweight and moderately obese patients with certain chronic diseases often live longer and fare better than normal-weight patients with the same ailments, according to a new report published in The New York Times.
And the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine says patients of normal weight are twice as likely to die as those who are overweight or obese.
Dr. Carl Lavie, with the John Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute in New Orleans, documented his findings regarding this "obesity paradox" among patients with heart failure in 2002. He spent more than a year trying to get a journal to publish his findings.
"People thought there was something wrong with the data," he told the NYT. "They said, 'If obesity is bad for heart disease, how could this possibly be true?'"
The NYT also noted, "One study found that heavier dialysis patients had a lower chance of dying than those whose were of normal weight or underweight. Overweight patients with coronary disease fared better than those who were thinner, in another study; mild to severe obesity posed no additional mortality risks."
Research at the Cooper Institute in Dallas also found that being fit and fat is healthier than being thin and unfit. Doing regular aerobic exercise, even if it doesn't lead to weight loss, helps strengthen the heart and reduce dangerous fat in the liver.
"Maintaining fitness is good and maintaining low weight is good, but if you had to go off one, it looks like it's more important to maintain your fitness than your leanness," Lavie tells the NYT. "Fitness looks a little bit more protective."
To read the full report, click here.