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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

BU Study: Being Overweight May Be Deadlier Than We Think

Dr. Andrew Stokes, a Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) assistant professor of global health and faculty member at the Center for Global Health and Development, researched this so-called “obesity paradox” earlier this year while a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania. His contradictory finding: one-third of deaths among nonsmoking Americans could be linked to excess weight or obesity.

[Photo: Dr. Andrew Stokes]

Research published by the Centers for Disease Control’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) last year concluded that being mildly obese does not shorten life span, while being slightly overweight actually could lengthen it.

But mining more than a decade’s worth of health surveys from the Centers for Disease Control, Dr. Stokes cross-referenced that data with death records of American adults between the ages of 50 and 84. His study, published in the journal Population Health Metrics, concluded that the obesity paradox is false, owing in part to the fact that normal-weight people in the original study included smokers and those with serious illness.

To read more about the study and an interview with Dr. Stokes, go to: