Think about this … for every pound you gain, your risk of death raises steadily. Even if you do not smoke and consider yourself in general good health, your risk of death goes up 31% with every five-point increase in BMI.

The government funded analysis pooled data from 19 long-term studies that followed an amazing 1.46 million white adults from 5 to 28 years. These finds are similar to three other large studies, so the body of evidence is now, like many of us, rather large.

This latest bit of work was launched after controversial 2005 research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that found being overweight did not raise the risk of death. The report included both smokers and those with pre-existing conditions in the subject pool.

It's true that once your doctor might have thought having a little meat on your bones was a good thing that it gave you reserves and probably had no effect on health, now we know better. This research offers a far different message – just being overweight increases your death risk.

Here's how the numbers work out …

– BMI between 25.0 to 29.9 increased risk of death by 13%

– BMI between 30.0 to 34.9 increased risk of death by 44%

– BMI between 35.0 to 39.9 increased risk of death by 88%

– BMI between 40.0 to 49.9 increased risk of death by 251%

A body mass index between 20.0 and 24.9 was associated with the lowest risk of death in healthy non-smokers. These numbers are for women, though it's thought they'll prove accurate for men as well. For whites, the researchers conclude, being overweight or obese are both tied to an increase in all causes of mortality. Those added pounds really are deadly.

The large number of subjects gave the team the chance to evaluate a wide range of BMI levels. By excluding smokers and those with underlining health conditions, they were able to minimize the impact of these factors on death risk. Other experts, not involved in the study, worry that there was not enough information on fitness level or how active subjects might be.

The BMI number before age 50 shows to have the strongest effect on risk of death. Also important, being underweight may up your risk, but it's not clear whether undetected disease might be the reason.

The strong statistical significance of the findings suggests that earlier work on the impact of obesity on death risk may have underestimated the danger. That study found that adult obesity cut life expectancy by four years, the new data shows that carrying all that extra weight has a far greater impact on life span than experts previously thought.

As we all know, obesity has become a leading public health concern in the US Today the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classify a full 34% of us as obese with another 34% considered overweight. Being obese means you have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more, a BMI number between 25.0 and 29.9 is considered overweight. Not unexpectedly, there are mobile applications to help you get your number right on your handheld device.

Obviously carrying extra weight does more than make you look awful and feel even worse, it may up your risk of an early death, or the chances of being diagnosed with diseases or other life altering health problems. But it's not too late to do something … eating right, getting regular exercise and managing your stress level are all important ways to take care of your body.

Even if you've spent a lifetime eating poorly or not working out … you can make a change now and alter your risk of death from carrying too many pounds. Remember, all those pounds did not appear overnight and you are not going to lose them that way either. Slow, steady weight loss is what you're after. Before you know it that one or two pounds a week will add up to smaller sizes … feeling better … living longer … looking incredible to boot!