Harvard Health Letter

Is hefty the new healthy?

Some studies suggest that extra weight helps older people live longer, but they may be misleading. Weight still matters, but so does the waist.

Americans have been getting heavier since the Civil War, and it's safe to say some of the added weight reflects improvements in health. Better nutrition, improved housing, control of infectious diseases — they all helped fill out the American physique, and add some inches to it as well. But in the 1980s and 1990s, the long-term trend of adding pounds took off, and we found ourselves in the midst of an obesity epidemic.

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