Does being fat make you live longer? (Blog # 700)

That’s the question the average consumer is now confused about.


The gist of the article is our "fear of fat." This was the image in the New York Times.

The gist of the article is our “fear of fat.” This was the image in the New York Times.

—My 700th consecutive daily blog— No doubt you’ve heard the news story about obesity not being as deadly as we thought. With uncanny timing at the beginning of “diet and weight-loss season,” they’re now telling us this— from a recent study:

All adults categorized as overweight and most of those categorized as obese have a lower mortality risk than so-called normal-weight individuals.

This news was based on the release of a meta study published in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA). The study reviewed data from nearly 100 large epidemiological studies from around the world.

And the news has caught everyone’s attention. It’s been on the morning news, the evening news and now on the opinion page of the New York Times. The newscasters have all been grinning when they reported this news and overweight people everywhere have been breathing a sigh of relief.

Another example of confusion over clarity. People everywhere are now hearing that there’s nothing wrong with being a little overweight or even obese. This study is simply adding more confusion to the mix at a time when obesity levels are reaching epidemic levels. And people everywhere will have the same reaction:

“Good news! They’re now saying that being a little overweight is good for you—actually lowering your risk of death.”

Here’s the problem. We have created the perception in this country that the main driver of all of our health problems is obesity. And if we could just lower our weight—by whatever means—that all of our health problems will disappear.

Eat the right food (whole plants) and your weight will take care of itself.

Eat the right food (whole plants) and your weight will take care of itself.

But, obesity has never been the main problem. The blinding flash of the obvious problem has always been that we’re eating the wrong food. Focusing on weight-loss has never worked when trying to solve health issues. We all know the stats for weight-loss diets—they fail about 97% of the time.

It’s the food, stupid. That’s why we hardly even mentioned weight-loss when we created the 4Leaf for Life approach to the promotion of health. At the top of our 4Leaf chart, we have always stressed that effortless weight-loss is just a bonus—your body naturally seeks its ideal weight if you just eat the right foods. From our 4Leaf chart:

In Pursuit of Vibrant Health!

Effortless weight-­loss is just a bonus. All is based on leveraging the simple, yet powerful, concept of maximizing the percent of your calories from whole, plant-based foods—still in nature’s package.

NY Times LogoThe author of the New York Times article, Paul Campos, a professor of law at the University of Colorado—got it right when he made this statement later in the article:

In reality, of course, it would be nonsensical to tell so-called normal-weight people to try to become heavier to lower their mortality risk. Such advice would ignore the fact that tiny variations in relative risk in observational studies provide no scientific basis for concluding either that those variations are causally related to the variable in question or that this risk would change if the variable were altered.

But the damage has already been done, people everywhere are thinking what they always think—that the news and the rules are constantly changing. For over forty years, we’ve been warning people about obesity, now we’re telling them it may help them live longer. We’re reinforcing their likelihood to just keep on eating what they’re eating.

My son Jason lost 20 pounds he didn't know he had to lose---when he got serious about 4Leaf eating.

My son Jason lost 20 pounds he didn’t know he had to lose—when he got serious about 4Leaf eating.

The Bottom Line. We’re emphasizing the wrong things when it comes to health. While we should be telling the public EXACTLY what they should be eating to be healthy, we’re not even scratching the surface.

The beautiful simplicity is that people can eat all they want of the most nutritious of foods (whole plants) and their bodies will seek their ideal weight—effortlessly and permanently. And I seriously doubt that the ideal weight for anyone is one that would be classified as obese.

Want to finish up with a hefty dose of clarity on this topic? Take a look at my related blogs listed below:

Handy 4-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from

Want to find out how healthy your family is eating? Take our free 4Leaf Diagnostic Survey. It takes less than five minutes and you can score it yourself. After taking the survey, please give me your feedback as it will be helpful in the development of our future 4Leaf app for smartphones. Send feedback to

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J. Morris Hicks, working daily to promote health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

For help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4Leaf page or some great recipes at Lisa’s 4Leaf Kitchen.

Got a question? Let me hear from you at Or give me a call on my cell at 917-399-9700.

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Blogging daily at…from the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
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6 Responses to Does being fat make you live longer? (Blog # 700)

  1. Stan says:

    I rather suspect these “nearly 100 large epidemiological studies from around the world” include data on undernourished, starved children who died young. Or some other statistical trick was used. I am very skeptical

  2. Searching on “Paul Campos” — he does have worthwhile and interesting subjects to pay attention to. On the law school scam:

    And his 5-part talk at Stanford Law school:

  3. Irene says:

    So typical of media hype… being overweight will make you live longer, organic foods are not healthier to eat, and GMOs are good for you. They certainly have great PR teams out there making sure people don’t get truthful information!

  4. Linda says:

    Here’s a link to Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s blog post in response to this ridiculous piece of “news.”

  5. Thanks, Jim — I linked your article in my comment, today, to the Atkins diet book:

    I included:


    “A very large international study has found that vegetarians live longer than meat-eaters. The Adventist Health Study, which has been tracking tens of thousands of people since the late 1950’s indicates that even limiting meat intake can provide protection against chronic diseases that tend to shorten lives. . . . . . Etc. . .”

  6. MikeR says:

    For years, Paul Campos wrote an oped column for Scripps Howard News Service and two or three times a year, he would write an overweight myth column. And the point he took 800 words to get to was that yo-yo weight loss was more unhealthy than staying at the weight your at. In other words if you’re 220 pounds, don’t drop to 190 then go back up to 230 then down to 200 then up to 235 then down to 195 then up to 225 and so on. I haven’t read the NYT piece, because the AP reports that I saw seemed to be just what you said: More confusion.
    When people have seen that I’ve lost weight and ask how I did it, I explain that I eat lots of vegetables and NO animal products. “Oh, I could never do that,” is the response I get. Then I tell them it’s not about weight loss, it’s about optimal health. Still, no one wants to give up that fried chicken or hamburger or some other piece of animal flesh to improve their own health. Ugh!

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