Pushing fast-food bans and snack taxes, health officials seem obsessed with our weight and, consequently, our diets, too. But these food-focused policies miss their main objective health. As this latest research shows, it’s fitness (not fatness) that determines our well-being (‘Study: Fat people can be healthy, and thin people can get sick, too,’ news, Aug. 12).

A wealth of evidence shows 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 government researchers have found that overweight Americans have the lowest death rate of any weight group, and 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 Journal of the American Medical Association determined that physical activity levels, regardless of weight, determine the likelihood of dying prematurely. 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 America’s health, La-Z-Boys are a bigger threat than French fries.