New research suggests that even being a little pudgy can be a very bad thing. One of the largest studies to look at health and weight reveals that even a few extra kilos can raise your risk of premature death.

"Having a little extra meat on your bones - if that meat happens to be fat - is harmful, not beneficial," said Dr. Michael Thun of the American Cancer Society, senior author of the study in a news release. The research, published December 2 in New England Journal of Medicine, involved about 1.5 million people. Findings concluded that healthy white (nonsmoking) adults who were overweight were 13 percent more likely to die of heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers that those whose weight is considered normal.

This study was launched after a controversial 2005 study by the US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claiming that carrying extra kilos didn't raise health risks - that report also included smokers and people with pre-existing illnesses.

Using the body mass index (BMI), researchers report the healthiest range for both men and women is between 22.5 and 24.9. Overweight begins at a BMI measurement of 25, obese at 30, and morbidly obese at 40. Since the people measured in the study were white, researchers say results may vary for other ethnic and racial groups, noting evidence that suggests that for the same BMI level, African-Americans might have a lower risk of death and Asians a higher risk.

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