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More good news for the 'overweight'?

Researchers cast new doubts on supposed health hazards of being "overweight." by government standards:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/07/hea...

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  1. So many contradictory findings! After another health report that said people should strive to be "lean" - at the lower end of the "normal" range...

    It is good news for those of us who will never be lean, despite proper eating and exercise. Obviously, the report does not caution obesity, consumption of crap food or sedentary behaviour.

    1. NPR spent an hour on this today with two nutritionist/MDs. That ain't what it says. Overweight means 1 lb to 30 lbs past your ideal weight. Obese is still obese, and this has nothing to do with that. Obese is REAL bad.

      What the study says is that carrying a few extra pounds is probably good, and helps you fight off disease because you have a built-in reserve that people with zero body fat don't have.

      As the doctors on the show said, the BMI measure is both confusing and not particularly accurate. One guys said, do a tape measure around your hips, just above the hipbones. If it's 40 or more, you're screwed.

      I don't think anyone other than a fanatic has ever said being 10 pounds overweight was dangerous. At 20, though, it does get dangerous, particularly for diabetes (which is going off the chart these days) and pancreatic cancer and other such diseases.

      The one good thing for the overweight is that it appears that the risk of heart disease related to weight is lower than previously believed.

      This is not permission to buy out the Twinkie rack.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Pete Oldtown

        Actually, that's exactly what it said -- up to 25 pounds "overweight." Which begs the question, is that really "overweight'? "Overweight" is not absolute -- it's based on a determination made by someone of what "normal" is and has changed a lot over the years. If that weight range is healthy, then by what criteria is it "overweight"?

        I personally think that the new BMI standards are a scam. The old "Met Life" charts were based on actuarial data that life insurance companies developed over many years using huge amounts of data about how long people actually live. BMI seems to be based on rather dubious science and often results in the ridiculous conclusion that people who are more muscular than average are "overweight" while people who weigh less because they have less muscle and less bone density are judged to be healthier.

        What really annoys me is that over the years many studies have come up with similar findings, and the anti-fat fanatics have dismissed them with the rather circular reasoning that the findings that being moderately overweight is not bad for your health ignores the "fact" that being overweight is bad for your heath. Just like the anti-fat fanatic quoted in this article, who when confronted with the fact that being moderately overweight is not a health risk then turned around and said it's a quality of life issue, completely ignoring the fact that stressing out about your weight and struggling to obtain unrealistic body ideals are also quality of life issues, not to mention that yo-yo dieting has been proven to be bad for your health. The fact that someone is a health professional or scientist doesn't mean they're not susceptible to the same cultural influences and irrational prejudices about fat as everyone else.

      2. I agree with Ruth. I think the BMI indexes are a scam. I got curious and did mine online recently at the American Medical Association site. I am five feet three inches tall and a 130 lbs. I have always been sort of a muscular girl. The online BMI said that I was on the borderline between overweight and obese! WTF! That can not be true.

        3 Replies
        1. re: petitgourmet

          Right there with you petitgourmet!

          1. re: petitgourmet

            P

            Jfood thinks you may have typed the input incorrectly. Good news at 5'3" and 130 your BMI is 23, smack dab in the middle of normal (range of 18.5-25). At your height borderline obese would have 165 pounds on your frame.

            1. re: jfood

              That's good to know! :) I must have done something wrong. Thanks jfood!

          2. Jfood is not sure if he read the same article, but disecting paragraph by paragraph it states the following:

            Underweight – Higher death rates than normal weights but not defined
            Overweight:
            - Lower in Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, infections and lung disease
            - Higher in cancer, Diabetes and heart disease
            Obese –
            - Higher in heart disease
            - Higher in colon, breast, esophagus, uterus, ovary, kidney and pancreas cancers.
            - Lower in lung cancer

            So where's the "good news" for overweight people? jfood does not think there has been a clear link established between Alzheimers, Parkinson's, infections and Lung disease and eating/weight, but clearly the bad stuff has been linked to eating and food.

            So jfood's takeaway is that the headline is interesting but the overweight and obese still lead to some pretty awful and deadly consequences.

            4 Replies
            1. re: jfood

              What it said was that "overweight" (not obese) people live as long -- or slightly longer -- than "normal" weight people. It's not the particular diseases associated with each condition that are important, but whether being overweight affects your life span, which apparently is doesn't. After all, everyone dies of something sooner or later, the object is to die later rather than sooner. And if I'm going to live the same amount of time, I'd rather have almost anything than Alzheimer's!

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                Actually what it says in the first paragraph is

                "About two years ago, a group of federal researchers reported that overweight people have a lower death rate than people who are normal weight, underweight or obese. Now, investigating further, they found out which diseases are more likely to lead to death in each weight group."

                The article concludes various sub-diseases and the relative effects on the four weight classes. It neither denies nor confirms the first sentence but takes it as a given. The heading states correctly that "Overweight People Found Less Likely to Die From Some Diseases" but those diseases are not food induced, per se. The diseases that might be food induced have a higher death rate.

                It's like saying that anorexics do not die as often from fat build up in the arteries leading to heart disease and therefore it is not a health issue. All statisticians must take their sample set and use reasonable man approach. Smokers do not die from stomach cancer therefore it is not so bad but no direct link, but lung cancer way up there and has a direct link. When doing statistical analysis one of the basic items that must be decided and proved is correlation versus causality. In this article it cites high correlation to Alzheimers, et. al. so what. And it has high causation between certain cancers and weight, that's a major issue.

                1. re: jfood

                  You're a smart guy, jfood -- you know you're twisting what the article said. It said researchers found that people who are moderately overweight live as long as people of normal weight: they just die of different things. As I said, everyone dies, the question is whether or not you die "prematurely" and there have been numerous studies over the years that have shown that moderately overweight people have similar or slightly better life spans than "normal" people.

                  Excess fat itself has never been proven to be a health problem in and of itself, but is rather associated with certain health problems. Association is not causation. Rather, it appears that excess fat is most often a symptom of the same underlying behaviors and conditions that relate are related to disease: eating poorly, not getting enough exercise, etc. In other words, with some exceptions, fat doesn't make you sick, the same things that make you sick also make you fat.

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    jfood just went to JAMA and read the article. Major yawn, and very basic, does not say very much about nothing (yup that's the best way to describe it). and as you state people die from something and that;'s the research conclusion. A couple of good sound bites in the research conclusion, a lot of this is what we dids and then some basic conclusions. Would give them a B+ if they were in jfood's statistics class and jfood's an easy grader since he promised himself that in graduate school. Seems like four PhD's looking to publish, must be a slow month for JAMA..

                    So a whole lot of noise for us deaf people is jfood's conclusion (and yes jfood doe have a major hearing issue so speaking from the choir). Oh well onto dinner and some good reading of Harry Potter. Enjoyed Ratatouille better than the article, what a great flick.

            2. Sigh. Im a big girl. Was born that way, have remained that way with some influxes here and there over my lifespan. I go to my regularly scheduled Dr's appointments. I get my blood drawn, my sugar checked, my cholesterol done. I am a shining star in all of those departments. I do not have knee problems, back problems nor am I out of breath from going up and down the stairs 0495340530958 times a day. I can guarantee you I will out-shop most of you on any given day. I walk, I play with my niece, I play softball, I garden, I do yard work and scrub my house from top to bottom at least 4 days a week because I have a slight compulsion. I can lift heavy furniture more efficiently than some big strong manly men.

              Moral of the story? Just because you have a big ass doesn't mean your unhealthy. Black Friday shopping anyone? Bet I'll beatcha to that 52" Vizio!

              1 Reply
              1. re: chelleyd01

                Yeah, I don't know what it will take "science" to realise a) people have different builds and b) that is no excuse for sitting around and eating crap food. Probably exercise and healthy eating are the most important factors (duh!) whether or not partaking in same leads you to a fashion-model's figure.

              2. I hated when I saw this all over the media outlets. As a society we are grossly overweight, and do not need one study to condone this behaviour. I maintain that a normal weight is much better than being overweight or obese. We do not need one more excuse for people to skip going to the gym.

                Also, if you are overweight/obese, the "healthy" part will catch up to you in a few years. Your bones and joints do not like the task of carrying extra weight. Frankly, I'm skeptical that there is good news for the overweight. I doubt the extra calories are all gained by lifting weights and eating vegetables.

                Different sizes and builds are fine. This differs from being overweight and obese though. I'm very curvy, and know that I can't wear anything smaller than a US 6, regardless of my weight, because my hips and shoulders are too big. I'll mention Kate Winslet too. A perfect example of curvy, but not overweight. Your "size" is different from your weight and health. While the sizes 0-12 are fairly standard... I doubt that anything greater than that comes from someone's natural build.

                You should know your body well enough to define a nice ideal weight, where you can eat normally, exercise, and occasionally diet.