According to a recent article in the New York Times,"overweight people have a lower death rate because they are much less likely to die from a grab bag of diseases that includes Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, infections and lung disease. And that lower risk is not counteracted by increased risks of dying from any other disease, including cancer, diabetes or heart disease."
This isn't exactly a carte blanche to snork out at the trough, since obese people still die at a higher rate - as do underweight people. But interestingly what we consider to be "overweight" may actually be a more appropriate weight level, as long as people are eating well and exercising and otherwise generally healthy (what the fat activists have been saying for some time, BTW). Despite the fact that culturally, Americans think that even normal weight people are actually somewhat unattractive (cf the slightly stale collection of snarkery over Britney Spears unflattering outfit at some awards event, when it is perfectly clear that the woman, whatever else is wrong with her, is NOT overweight), it turns out that our ideas of what is attractive may not be what is healthy - uh, well, duh. Any other surprises out there?