UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

August 25, 2009

STUDY FINDS PUBLIC MISLED ON WEIGHT & LIFE SPAN

USA Today - Extremely obese people - those who are 80 or more pounds over a normal weight - live three to 12 fewer years than their normal-weight peers, a new study shows. Just being overweight or moderately obese, however, has little or no effect on life span, the research found. The finding adds to the growing body of evidence that being slightly overweight may have no influence on life expectancy, but being severely overweight trims years off people's lives.

Overall, about 66% of adults in the USA are either overweight or obese. About one-third of people are in the obese category, meaning they have a body mass index of 30 or greater. . . About 6% of people are extremely obese - that is, they have a BMI of 40 or greater.

Economists with RTI International, a non-profit research organization in Research Triangle Park, N.C., analyzed national data on 366,000 people. Among the findings:

- Non-smokers who are obese - those who are about 30 or more pounds over a healthy weight - have a shorter life span by a year or less.

- Non-smokers who are overweight - about 29 pounds over a healthy weight - do not have shortened lives.

TPR - If you extrapolate from the figures above, approximately 60% of Americans have been consistently misled about the consequence of their weight and that, in fact, it will result in little or no difference in their life span. One major reason for this is that the medical profession insists on using the BMI, even though it is badly misleading since it assumes we are two dimensional rather than three dimensional creatures. The media helps perpetuate the myth. An exception is this 2006 story:

Reuters, 2006 - Body Mass Index, the standard measure of obesity, is badly flawed and a more accurate gauge should be developed, according to doctors in the United States. Writing in Friday's Lancet medical journal, the researchers from the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minnesota, found that patients with a low BMI had a higher risk of death from heart disease than those with normal BMI. At the same time overweight patients had better survival rates and fewer heart problems than those with a normal BMI.

This apparently perverse result, drawn from data from 40 studies covering 250,000 people with heart disease, did not suggest that obesity was not a health threat but rather that the 100-year-old BMI test was too blunt an instrument to be trusted. . .

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even in the first article they are totally arbitrary. They say "Extremely obese people - those who are 80 or more pounds over a normal weight".

80 pounds over "normal weight" is very different on a 6'6" person then a person who is 5'1". 80 pounds over "normal weight" is very different if a person is an athlete or a couch potato. And heaven help us if they are using BMI to decide what"normal weight" is. While the point of the article is good, they sure have a flawed way of discussing the issue.

August 29, 2009 11:23 AM  

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