This has been a confusing year for Texas’s overweight majority. First, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC) announced that fatness had become such an epidemic that it would soon be a larger public health hazard than smoking— alarming news for a state whose major cities routinely rank as some of the fattest in America. Then a group of scientists reported that being “pleasingly plump” might actually ensure a longer life than being thin. But the CDC—them again—then claimed that the mortality rates in that study were unfairly skewed because a lot of the skinny people included were skinny because they were sick. What gives? Can you really be fat and live happily ever after? According to Steven Blair, the president and CEO of the Cooper Institute, a leading fitness research center in Dallas, the answer is a counterintuitive yes.
Size Doesn’t Always Matter.
A long life, says Blair, does not necessarily depend on your body mass index ( BMI), that abstruse reduction of your height, weight, and sex into a single number used as a measure of your relative size. Blair should know. “Look,” he told me. “I’m about five foot five, a hundred and ninety-five pounds. Fat, right? But then, I run twenty-five miles a week. I’m in great shape. According to my BMI, I’m obese, and yet other numbers, like my blood pressure and my cholesterol, are low. That means I’m healthier than a lot of skinny people who don’t exercise.” What really counts,