Skinny Is Deadly: Studies Show Low Weight Could Kill You

I’ve always joked that I was just born in the wrong century. If this were a different time, say when plowing and milking were still daily tasks, my thick stature would be viewed as an asset, and not something to hide or sweat off at the gym. Excessively skinny people always looked slightly frail to me, like they might collapse if you gave them something heavy to carry. If you share my belief that size 0 pants don’t necessarily make you healthy, you’ll be relieved to know that science is finally backing us up.

Recent diabetes research at Northwestern University has led to the discovery of what experts are calling “the obesity paradox.” The New York Times has more:

In study after study, overweight and moderately obese patients with certain chronic diseases often live longer and fare better than normal-weight patients with the same ailments. The accumulation of evidence is inspiring some experts to re-examine long-held assumptions about the association between body fat and disease…In 2007, a study of 11,000 Canadians over more than a decade found that those who were overweight had the lowest chance of dying from any cause.

Apparently, the Body Mass Index (BMI) that everyone from doctors to fitness coaches has been using to cast judgment about our weight and health isn’t the perfect tool we thought it was. The BMI completely fails to take physical fitness or activity levels into account — two characteristics that could have way more to do with your overall health than a number on a scale. As Traci Egan Morrissey sums it up for Jezebel, “A person who exercises and weighs more is often healthier than a person who doesn’t and weighs less.”

This is of course a radical notion in the medical establishment, and one most health professionals find very threatening. Dr. Carl Lavie, medical director of cardiac rehabilitation and prevention at the John Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute in New Orleans, and one of the first researchers to document the obesity paradox, searched for over a year to get his initial study published.

Gym memberships, diet plans and metabolism-boosting supplements are a muti-million dollar industry. Not to mention the millions medical professionals reap from weight-loss surgeries. For decades we’ve counted calories and worked out obsessively to be skinny because that’s what the BMI told us was healthy. Now it turns out being skinny might actually make us more susceptible to death. Think about that for a second.

Of course, the key here is a multi-faceted holistic approach that brings our eating, exercise, and well-being into line with the body-type and metabolism prescribed in our DNA. This new discovery isn’t an excuse for obesity, it’s just permission to love yourself and strive for health, not a number on a scale. Looks like me and my thick calves are all right after all.

Related Reading:

Throwing Money At Obesity Will Not Solve The Problem

Access To Public Transit Reduces Obesity

Kate Moss Says Skinny Is Better Than Healthy

Image via Thinkstock

Love This? Never Miss Another Story.

96 comments

Ruth R.
Ruth R.2 years ago

What-ever size you want to be -- as long as you are whole and healthy. Let people be.

Lee Rowan
Lee Rowan2 years ago

I'd like to know who started calling sturdy women "thick." Because, hello, THIN is not healthy. Slim or slender are healthy.

It's sad to see all the anorexic apologists for self-abuse.

Martinique Fisher

This is bull. I'm a size 2 naturally and so is my mom, grandma, and great grandma. Probably all of the French blood in us. We are healthy as horses and my mom has had 5 kids.
I'm tired of skinny bashing all of a sudden, it's just as bad as picking on the "fat kid" in class. And I love Betty Page and much as the next person, but I'm tired of the "real woman" images. We are all real women. Just because I'm a size 2 doesn't mean I'm not a women.
I am just as beautiful as my XXL friends. I'm not pathetic Lynn.

Bryna Pizzo
Bryna Pizzo2 years ago

Thank you for sharing the facts about anorexia.

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson3 years ago

both extremes are bad. To all the "thin bashers" I am a size zero. I am 5'6'' and 111 lbs. I am very active, I eat right and I do NOT look sick or deformed. I am fit and happy. Some girls look too thin in a zero... but others are just slight and born a bit smaller. Furthermore obesity is a KILLER. Yes overweight people can be healthier if they exercise and such, but thin people can be too. That doesn't change the fact that obesity is unhealthy. The only real point of this article is that extremes are bad. We know this. So eat right and work out and don't get fat (or too skinny)

Lynn D.
Lynn D.3 years ago

sad, but true ---- size 0-2 looks really pathetic! I know a few skinny people who can't put on weight and they have ALL had serious health problems!

Kay Caldwell
Onita Caldwell3 years ago

Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow you may diet and exercise some. LOL. My dad had a brother and a sister who were very fat and they both lived long lives.

Beverly G.
bev G.3 years ago

too much media coverage isdoing it all. going on about how she looks. and that one looks all the celebs.

Carmely Guizar
carmely Guizar3 years ago

true!

Colleen Prinssen
Colleen Prinssen3 years ago

i wonder how much of my weight is what. what part of 88 pounds is organs.

I think walking 4 miles everyday might make you loose a pound a week. then gorge when you get back because food can be so yummy. I don't know if i want a fahijita, kiddy cereal, egg or banana or keifer yoghurt. I'd love to eat all of them at one sitting. but can't.