While much research has shown that being overweight poses a health risk that results in a shorter lifespan, researchers have now found that being fit and overweight may be healthier and result in more longevity as compared with simply being of normal body weight but being unfit. A group of over 2,600 adults over the age of 60 were examined during 1979-2001. Each had their fitness assessed by participating in a maximal exercise test as well as having their body mass index, waist measurement and percent body fat recorded. Upon assessing overall mortality rates at the end of 2003, researchers discovered that fitness was the most significant mortality predictor and was independent of overall body weight/obesity. Thus, it was the cardiovascular health of the individual and not the weight of the individual that more strongly influenced their overall health and longevity. Researchers recommended that all older individuals continue with physical activity even if they are of normal body weight.
Source: Journal of the American Medical Assoc. 2007;298(21):2507-2516.