Fat and Healthy?
Okay, I’ve heard this kind of talk before, but is it really possible to be overweight and still live a long-healthy life? My guess is no. Now, for more on this, check out “Chubby Gets a Second Look” by New York Times report Gina Kolata. Here’s a bit:
Chubby, it turns out, may be the new healthy. Who knows if it will be the new beautiful.I’m not buying it, but maybe this study in The Journal of the American Medical Association will convince you it’s a good idea to pack on some extra pounds—I doubt it—but have a look anyway. From the abstract:
Two years ago, federal researchers found that overweight people had the lowest mortality rate of any weight group. Investigating further, they were able to link causes of death to specific weights. Obese people had more deaths from heart disease, they reported last week. And thin people? They had more deaths from everything but cancer and heart disease.
But there were 100,000 fewer deaths among the overweight than would have been expected if those people had been of normal weight. This is what might politely be called the chubby category, with body mass indexes (a measure of weight for height) of 25 to 30. A woman, for instance, who is 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs between 146 and 175 pounds.
About a third of Americans fall into that range, defined, less politely, as “overweight” by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
ObjectiveCertainly, I could easily make a ton of smart-alecky remarks about this research, but, you guys don’t come here for the jokes. Dr. Fuhrman wanted to weigh in on this study—no pun intended—so here’s what he had to say:
To estimate cause-specific excess deaths associated with underweight (BMI <18.5), overweight (BMI 25-<30), and obesity (BMI ≥30).
Based on total follow-up, underweight was associated with significantly increased mortality from noncancer, non-CVD causes (23 455 excess deaths; 95% confidence interval [CI], 11 848 to 35 061) but not associated with cancer or CVD mortality. Overweight was associated with significantly decreased mortality from noncancer, non-CVD causes (–69 299 excess deaths; 95% CI, –100 702 to –37 897) but not associated with cancer or CVD mortality. Obesity was associated with significantly increased CVD mortality (112 159 excess deaths; 95% CI, 87 842 to 136 476) but not associated with cancer mortality or with noncancer, non-CVD mortality. In further analyses, overweight and obesity combined were associated with increased mortality from diabetes and kidney disease (61 248 excess deaths; 95% CI, 49 685 to 72 811) and decreased mortality from other noncancer, non-CVD causes (–105 572 excess deaths; 95% CI, –161 816 to –49 328). Obesity was associated with increased mortality from cancers considered obesity-related (13 839 excess deaths; 95% CI, 1920 to 25 758) but not associated with mortality from other cancers. Comparisons across surveys suggested a decrease in the association of obesity with CVD mortality over time.
The BMI-mortality association varies by cause of death. These results help to clarify the associations of BMI with all-cause mortality.
When we look to researchers to interpret the findings of data collection we most often find that their knowledge about the causes of health is inadequate.No doubt the fast food companies are loving this—fatten up for life! My goodness.
If we put 100 people on the SAD diet, we would have to assume that those that were healthy would gain more weight than those who had chronic diseases or undiagnosed cancer. Having cancer, chronic disease (even if sub-clinical and not yet diagnosed) alcoholism, depression and autoimmune illnesses all cause people to be thinner and lose weight.
The bottom line is that Americans of all weights (because they eat like most Americans eat) are very unhealthy with high rates of cancer and heart disease in all weight categories.
If you want to be healthy, live long, with a healthy life expectancy, then you want to be slim and have earned that with an excellent diet. There are no overweight centenarians.
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