Newspapers across the country reported on a Journal of the American Medical Association article published today studying the relation between obesity, death rates, and the causes of death. The New York Times writes that the study found “there were more than 100,000 fewer deaths among the overweight in 2004, the most recent year for which data were available, than would have expected if those people had been of normal weight.” The Washington Post sums up the study’s findings as this:
The most surprising finding was that being overweight but not obese was associated only with excess mortality from diabetes and kidney disease — not from cancer or heart disease. Moreover, the researchers found an apparent protective effect against all other causes of death, such as tuberculosis, emphysema, pneumonia, Alzheimer’s disease and injuries. An association between excess weight and nearly 16,000 deaths from diabetes and kidney disease was overshadowed by a reduction of as many as 133,000 deaths from all other deaths unrelated to cancer or heart disease. Even moderately obese people appeared less likely to die of those causes.
Predictably, many vocal critics have come forward to denounce the study and its findings.