Being overweight could add years to a person’s life, scientists suggest.
People who pile on the pounds are less likely to die early than their slender peers, the study found.
Researchers said one reason could be that fatter people were more likely to visit the doctor than healthier looking individuals.
However, the study, which examined the cases of around three million adults, found the beneficial effect was cancelled for people who were seriously obese.
Dr Katherine Flegal, of the National Centre for Health Statistics in the United States, found that people who are overweight had a six per cent lower risk of death than normal weight people.
The risk for those with a BMI (body mass index) of between 30 and 35 fell by five per cent. But those grossly obese with a BMI above 35 were 29 per cent more likely to die than slim people of the same age.