In the “fit vs. fat” debate, it’s important to review all the facts (“‘Fit and fat’ study stirs debate on obesity, fitness,” May 19). A wealth of research has shown that sedentary lifestyles clearly play a role in our health and longevity. Weight’s impact on disease and death, however, isn’t so clear. In fact, federal researchers have shown that overweight Americans have the lowest death rate of any weight group. Those few extra pounds actually have a protective effect against chronic disease.

On the other hand, physical inactivity takes a toll, inside and out.
A 2007 study in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association determined that physical activity levels, regardless of weight, determine morbidity. And another study found that individuals who forgo regular exercise age prematurely. So regardless of body weight, Americans who are physically active live longer and look younger than their couch-bound counterparts.

Bottom line: When it comes to health, your recliner is a bigger threat than your love handles.

Trice Whitefield | Washington, D.C.
Senior Research Analyst, Center for Consumer Freedom