A Little Extra Fat Could Be Protective

A review of almost 100 studies found that people who were overweight or slightly obese had a lower risk of dying compared to those considered "normal" weight.

The New York Times: Study Suggests Lower Mortality Risk For People Deemed To Be Overweight
The report on nearly three million people found that those whose B.M.I. ranked them as overweight had less risk of dying than people of normal weight. And while obese people had a greater mortality risk over all, those at the lowest obesity level (B.M.I. of 30 to 34.9) were not more likely to die than normal-weight people (Belluck, 1/1).

The Wall Street Journal: A Few Extra Pounds Won't Kill You—Really
But people with a BMI of 25 to 30—who are considered overweight and make up more than 30% of the U.S. population—have a 6% lower risk of death than people whose BMI is in the normal range of 18.5 to 25, according to the study, being published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Beck, 1/1).

NPR: Research: A Little Extra Fat May Help You Live Longer
One of the experts who takes issue with Flegal's conclusions is epidemiologist Walter Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health. ... Willett says it's not helpful to look simply at how peoples body mass indexes, or BMIs, influence their risk of death — as this paper did without knowing something about people's health or fitness. Some people are thin because they're ill, so of course they're at higher risk of dying. The study doesn't tease this apart (Aubrey, 1/2).

Reuters: More Evidence For "Obesity Paradox"
Being severely obese, however, was still tied to an almost 30 percent higher risk of death. The idea that being somewhat overweight could be linked to better health has been dubbed the obesity paradox, even though actual obesity is generally not associated with the apparent "benefit." ... The study results certainly do not give people permission to pack on extra pounds, according to Dr. Steven Heymsfield, the executive director of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana (Seaman, 1/1).

Meanwhile, efforts to fight fat are spurring big changes in school cafeterias -

Kaiser Health News: School Cafeterias Join Fight Against Childhood Obesity
Increasingly, though, the movement to reduce childhood obesity by improving what kids eat in school has changed the game. It means schools are now required to serve more fresh fruits and vegetables. And there’s a movement within the movement that promotes the retro notion of cooking meals from scratch. And that takes a change in the hearts and minds of those behind the lunch line (Whitney, 12/28).

And the federal government is examining energy drinks -

The New York Times: Energy Drinks Promise Edge, But Experts Say Proof Is Scant
Energy drinks are the fastest-growing part of the beverage industry ... The drinks are now under scrutiny by the Food and Drug Administration after reports of deaths and serious injuries that may be linked to their high caffeine levels. But however that review ends, one thing is clear, interviews with researchers and a review of scientific studies show: the energy drink industry is based on a brew of ingredients that, apart from caffeine, have little, if any benefit for consumers (Meier, 1/1).

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