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Right, wechsler linked to a study saying fat people live longer. I think this is also discussed in today's New York Times. Check out this telling quote:

"The new study began several years ago when the investigators used national data to look at death risks according to body weight. They concluded that, compared with people of normal weight, the overweight had a decreased death risk and the underweight and obese had increased risk."

Let's contrast this with last week's "being fat causes cancer" headlines: "[C]ontrary to expectations, the obese did not have an increased risk of dying from cancer [comparison of different types of cancer and effect of weight] ... In the end, the increases and decreases in cancer risks balanced out."

It did say this: "The higher death rate in obese people, as might be expected, was almost entirely driven by a higher death rate from heart disease." And there was a diabetes tie-in here, too.

Also, exercise is good for your brains. So can we stop obsessing about being fat (per the BMI calculator I am, FYI), and get some exercise and be happy, now?


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 8th, 2007 02:40 pm (UTC)
I totally agree!
Nov. 8th, 2007 03:09 pm (UTC)
Among the things that piss me off with the fat studies is that they can only analyse life expectancy after you're dead. So they're assuming that overweight people now would have the same health risks as overweight people born in 1930.

Given that people in 1930 would be routinely expending much more energy on staying warm as well as all the tasks of the day, they'd have to be eating way more food (mainly fat and sugar, just to get it all in during the day) to acheive overweightness, compared to someone today. So might well be suffering increased rates of diet-affected illnesses compared to present-day counterparts.
Nov. 8th, 2007 10:34 pm (UTC)
Not to be controversial or anything but...
how come you'll accept the findings of one study, but not the systematic review of 7000?

(The estimated risk from bacon and processed meats is, by the way, 1.21. That is you are an estimated 1.21 times more likely to develop cancer if you eat bacon than if you do not. The estimated risk from smoking is 22.0 It's probably a risk worth taking)
Nov. 8th, 2007 10:41 pm (UTC)
Re: Not to be controversial or anything but...
And I am also "Overweight" using the BMI calculator - and it ain't muscle.
Nov. 8th, 2007 11:26 pm (UTC)
Re: Not to be controversial or anything but...
Maybe it has more to do with how the studies are presented? There's really this whole attitude toward demonizing fat people that I don't like, and I think it's bizarre that anything that isn't anti-fat gets no coverage.

Plus I'm on a bit of a roll after reading about how the low-fat diet thing became "common knowledge" because about one person said it was a good thing and didn't actually have any science to back it up. Each of these studies seems to get people to follow "nutritionism" (to quote Michael Pollan's "Unhappy Meals" screed) and I don't feel like they're actually helping people eat better or live healthier lives.
Nov. 9th, 2007 02:00 am (UTC)
We just recently had a similar discussion on the hell bbs regarding BMI, in particular, on this fun slideshow:

My retort:

I don't think the BMI is a crock of shit, I'd just say it is a very limited tool. There have been correlations between very low and very high BMI and health related issues over a population. Of course, each person is different.
BMI is just one little tool, that is used a lot because it is easy to calculate, and has some basis.

One of the things I liked about that slideshow was how different weights look appropriate on different people. Almost all the people in that slideshow looked good to me because they all seemed comfortable in their own skin. BMI,however, is not an analysis of a person's appearance or moral character. It
is just a number than can indicate that someone might want to look into further tests. If someone is really athletic, it throws off the BMI entirely, since muscle is denser than fat. Also, it absolutely does not figure in frame or bone density. If you have good bone density and good musculature, you could read "overweight" while actually being at the peak of health.

As I have grown larger, I think I have mentally distanced myself from what I really look like, how much fat I really have gained, and how it has been dragging me down physically. A lot of this is purely from being sedentary, but complete lack of portion control has also contributed. Arguments about "fat and fit" and my complete disgust over society's compulsion with skinniness and fad diets allowed me to ignore a situation that was getting unhealthy for me.

The BMI calculated for my height and weight, 35.2, classifies me as "severly obese", which is pretty harsh, and certainly not how I think of myself. When I was not much larger, at 36.6 BMI, I had a much more accurate test (DEXA scan) done on my bone density, muscle and fat percentage, and it correlated pretty darn well with that "severly obese" tag. Although I'd like to think I am pretty healthy and fit enough for my BMI, I'm not. I don't have a large frame. I'm pretty average, with a medium frame (albeit an unusually high bone density, probably in part because I've carried a lot of weight for awhile). That DEXA scan told me that 3.36% of me is bone, 46.2% of me is muscles and organs, and a whopping 50.5% of me is fat. There is no way I can justify that as healthy, even with cherry-picking the evidence.

More to the point for me is that I was starting to have fat related health problems: problems with my arms, backaches, some difficulty sleeping as soundly as I had previously, and then that dislocated kneecap from just walking down some steps. I started seeing a massage therapist once a month for quite a few different pains. So, yes, BMI is very limited, and one could argue that I don't need some silly calculator to tell me I'm fat, but I gained this weight very, very gradually, it did send up a flag when I was no longer simply "overweight" (which I'm so historically used to that it translates to "normal" for me) to "severely obese".
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )


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