• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Report: Some extra weight may be a good thing

January 1, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Researchers reviewed existing data of nearly 3 million people and found carrying a few extra pounds might actually be good for you.

The top New Year resolutions are usually cut down on fatty foods, eat healthier and exercise. But now some new research gives many people some reason to rejoice -- or at least an excuse not to feel bad.

A huge review of existing research comparing weight to all causes of death found having a body mass index between 25 and 30 -- in other words being overweight, but not obese -- may be a good thing.

A report in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds this group enjoyed a slightly lower chance of dying from any cause than their normal-weight counterparts.

"Sometimes that surprises people, but they really should not be too surprised, because in our categories of these 97 studies, 80 percent of them showed that there was lower mortality in overweight than normal weight people," said Katherine M. Flegal, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Not surprisingly, death risk shot up for people whose BMI classified them as severely obese.

Critics remind us the study only shows association, so it's difficult to say conclusively whether being overweight may lengthen your life. Experts speculate protective factors associated with being a bit overweight include having wealth or the extra medical attention overweight people get.

Researchers point out that these findings were consistent even though they involved people of all different ages and who were in different parts of the world.