Friday, April 22, 2005

Is being a little bit overweight good for you?

This item from Health Facts and Fears is a perfectly straightforward discussion of the new research from the CDC - although, like the researchers, it assumes that obesity is automatically bad for you and then tries to explain the results that way.

What this discussion misses is another point made by the CDC researchers - that the risk of mortality due to being overweight is rarely more than double, and only at younger ages. As you get older, age rather weight is massively more important as a factor.

The other point is that at least some of the excess mortality may be due to factors associated with obesity rather than the obesity itself. In an environment where food is ubiquitous, people will on average be heavier than before. So, other healthy factors previously associated with a 'normal' or 'overweight' BMI may now be associated with people at the lower end of obesity in the present environment.

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