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It was thought, but not proven, that it was due to having greater physical reserves to draw on in time of sickness. Sounds reasonable to me.

Except....

I fancy that this article is another example of "Science By Press Release" and that, if you Google the title, you'll find umpteen similar "takes" on the same press release. I see this is a NYT article dated Jan 2nd......a Tuesday, right?? The NYT Tuesday *science* section is full of not-quite-accurate articles such as this one on pretty much every topic that's included there.

One of the things with statistical analyses that lead to sensational headlines such as this is that the mortality stats can get heavily skewed by the folk who are underweight because of the illness that killed them. For instance, a figure that the author quoted was males of 5'10" and a weight between 129-174 lbs having a higher "mortality risk" than the same height and a weight of 175-243lbs (a 5'4' woman between 104 and 145 lbs was categorised in a similar risky fashion) The lower limit of "lightweight" in this example is really low as compared with the upper limit of "heavier".

This article is a long way from validating obesity as a strategy for long term health. I see that the author is a professor of law at the Univ. Colorado and with a book about the Obesity *myth* no less. Fine credentials for spinning a convincing tale on a topic but not necessarily someone who's going to give you a decent analysis on bodyweight, health and wellbeing.
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