Skinny people do not automatically live longer

Experts of all stripes and active promoters of certain lifestyles claim that skinny people live longer. Medical science has created the BMI, Body Mass Index, to classify body types and weight classes of people.

The Center of Disease Control (CDC) defines a normal weight as a BMI of between 18.5 and 24.9. People with a BMI of 25 or higher are overweight. And you are a Fatso if your BMI exceeds 30. At a BMI of 35 or higher CDC calls you obese.

According to this index, too many Americans are either fat or obese. Doctors, insurance companies, health advocates and vegetarians swear that you die sooner if your BMI is 25 or higher. Many allegedly impartial studies on longevity and BMI contradict each other. The BMI is neither fixed nor an accurate measure of a person’s health prospects. In fact, the BMI has been changed, actually lowered, before.

Studies based on the body mass index produce contradictory results. One found that patients with colorectal cancer and a body mass of 25 and higher lived longer compared those under 25. In 2011, another study stated that people had a better chance of survival with a body mass index of 26 to 29. Patients with an index of under 23 were less fortunate.

A newer study that calculated a person’s individual body mass index by including factors such as age, race, education, alcohol use, marital status, and exercise level found that the ideal BMI of a person depends on his or her specific characteristics. This personal body mass index represents the lowest risk of dying for the individual. It is better and more accurate than a body mass measure for any group. Even if it is higher than the ‘normal’, supposedly healthier body mass index.

Sorry, vegans, skinnier is not necessarily better.