Is it Time to Reconsider High BMI as Dangerous?

An article in the most recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association by Flegal et al. presents some serious evidence to question the hysteria over the rise in obesity (see also the commentaries here and here and here).

Apparently being "normal" weight isn't optimal if your goal is to live longest.  In fact, being a bit overweight (and even a bit obese) might add a few years to life.  As Jacob Sullum over at Reason suggests, perhaps we aught to re-define what is meant by "normal" weight given that the majority of people have BMIs that are beyond the "normal" cagetory.  Not only do people weigh more than "normal" - their weights are such that they are living longer too.  

I've received quite a lot of flack from various folks over the comments in my TEDx talk a couple months back, in which I argued that the rise in the rate of obesity had declined or even stopped.  Yet, when I provide incontrovertible evidence to support my statements (see here or here), I'm often met with dismay, disbelief, and even claims of dishonesty.  This is not to mention the fact that heart disease and other such ailments have fallen dramatically.   

We have a well entrenched narrative that: 1) obesity is uncontrollably rising and 2) something must be done because obesity is killing people and increasing medical costs.  The cites in my TEDx talk disputes the first argument.  The results in the current issue of JAMA dispute the second.  There are those who derive their meaning (and power) by pushing for public health interventions to combat obesity.  My hope is that that the reasonable scientists in the group will rationally update their priors with this new information.