Is excess weight hazardous to health, or can it actually be protective? This question has provoked intense debate in the academic community, in some cases even leading researchers to angrily denounce the work of others (1). There is good evidence to suggest that excess body fat increases the risk of specific diseases, including many of our major killers: diabetes, heart attack, stroke, heart failure, cancer, and kidney failure (2). Yet strangely, the studies relating excess weight to the total risk of dying-- an overall measure of health that's hard to argue with-- are inconsistent. Why?
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