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Overweight people live longest, but not necessarily best

BY DR. DAVID LIPSCHITZ Modified: January 24, 2013 at 4:22 pm •  Published: January 28, 2013

Ideal weight is defined as a BMI between 18 and 24, "overweight" is a BMI between 24 and 30, "obesity" is above 30 and "extreme obesity" is a BMI above 40.

The most recent information indicates that 40 percent of adult men and 30 percent of adult women are "overweight."

But the trends over the last 20 years suggest that it's the lack of exercise, as much as diet, that's responsible for the dramatic rise of obesity.

In the years 1980 to 1991, a time when the prevalence of obesity was surging, the average American's calorie intake actually declined from 1,854 calories to 1,785 per day. At the same time, total fat intake decreased by 11 percent.

So the reason we're getting fat is not because we're eating more, but because we're not exercising.

And yet, for the overweight and unfit among us, the first thing everyone says is "lose weight."

Unfortunately, the recommendation to diet comes with a much lower emphasis on exercising. The most important message must be to stay fit.

For every pound of fat lost by dieting, a pound of muscle is lost, as well. Dieting leads to a higher risk of illness and death. If the diet fails and the weight returns, it is all in the form of fat with virtually no return of the lost muscle. This leads to even more weakness, a greater risk of falling and an even higher risk of further disability.

If you want to live long and live well and if you are overweight, the message is simple: Don't worry about your weight and your shape.

First, you must exercise.

Second, work on being happy.

Third, never diet but eat sensibly.

Fourth, see your doctor frequently and work assiduously to stay healthy.

Remember, it is not how good you look but how good you feel that is important

Dr. David Lipschitz is the author of the book "Breaking the Rules of Aging." To find out more about Dr. David Lipschitz and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at More information is available at: