24/01/2011 17:33 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Carrying A Few Extra Pounds May Be Good For You

woman-tape-measure-measuring-waist Being too obsessive about your weight could be bad for you. Photo: Getty

When so much health advice focuses on the fact that being overweight is bad for your health, it's refreshing to hear that a few extra pounds may actually be good for you. That's the message from researchers writing in Nutrition Journal, who claim it's better to be slightly overweight and eat a balanced diet than to diet obsessively in an attempt to stay thin.

The study, which included an analysis of 350,000 people in the US, suggests there's evidence that overweight people - and even obese people - may live longer than people who are thin in their old age. The survey also claims being overweight could increase your chances of surviving health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and kidney failure.

Dieting, say the researchers - who include an NHS dietician - doesn't work anyway, as it often leads to people putting on even more weight because they give in to their cravings and binge. You'd be better off eating healthily and not trying to lose weight, they add.

Interestingly, the researchers suggest the link between obesity and a higher risk of certain illnesses, such as heart disease, is misunderstood. Being fat isn't the cause, they claim. But not eating a healthy diet and taking enough exercise - which often go hand-in-hand with obesity - could be the real reasons why being overweight is associated with increased health risks.

Instead of dieting, the researchers suggest we should learn to recognise the signs our own bodies give us where food is concerned, and eat when we're hungry - then stop when we're full.

Sounds like good advice. What do you think?

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