If your New Year's resolution is to live a healthier life, it might be best to ditch that diet because a bit of extra weight could actually help you live longer, researchers say.
According to an extensive research, men and women who are slightly plump have longer lives than those who are slimmer.
Analysis of the results of almost 100 studies revealed that those who were of normal weight were likely to die sooner than those who were slightly overweight, News.com.au reported.
However, those who were any bigger than this were around a third more likely to die during the months or years they were being studied than those of normal weight.
For the latest study, US government researchers read 91 previous research papers on the topic from around the world, involving millions of men and women.
They looked at the subjects' body mass index at the start of the research and how likely they were to have died by the end of the time period.
Body Mass Index, or BMI, is a mathematical formula relating height to weight. People are classified as being of normal weight if they had a BMI of between 18.5 and 24.9 and overweight if their reading was between 25 and 29.9.
A BMI higher than this is classified as obese and the bigger the reading the greater the risks to health are thought to be.
The results of the study showed that those judged to be overweight were 6 per cent less likely to have died by the end of the study period than those of normal weight.
Having a BMI of between 30 and 34.9, and so being slightly obese, also did not seem to harm health.
However, those whose BMI was greater than this were 29 per cent less likely to live to see the end of the study than those whose weight was classed as 'normal'.
Explanations as to why this might be include the possibility that those who start out slightly heavier will have more fat reserves to call on should they lose weight due to ill health as they get older.
It is also possible that concerns about the health of the overweight and obese means that problems linked to weight like high blood pressure and diabetes are more likely to be spotted and treated, improving that person's overall health.
Another theory is that some of those who are overweight may actually exercise more and eat better than thin people who starve themselves or smoke to suppress their appetite.
The study has been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. (ANI)