January 4, 2013

How bad is fat?

12 reasons why it's complicated.


Pogo said...

Geriatrics studies showed this long ago. Skinny old people don't live as long as slightly overweight elders. Many reasons posited.

It doesn't fit the current medical narrative, so it will be explained away. Eppur si muove.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

Actually, it isn't really that complicated: it's all bullshit.

'8. Muscular people inflate the survival rate of the fat group. BMI “doesn't differentiate between fat and muscle mass,” observes the Wall Street Journal. So people who exercise and gain muscle are counted as fatter, when really they’re just stronger."

So this isn't about being "over" or "under" weight. It's about text and dollars and text and dollars and text and dollars and text and dollars and text and dollars and text and dollars and text and dollars

sparrow said...

I buy into the muscle mass an poor binning (counting under weight as normal) excuses. This is fixed by modelling the data continuously rather than categorically and using body fat % instead of the bmi. The reason of course bmi is used is it's easily measured while body fat % is harder. Some simple innovations in the metrics would help distinguish muscular builds from fatty ones.

Pogo said...

Chubby elders are not muscular.

gerry said...

I am not fat. I am nonslender.

The attorneys from the NAANSP will be in touch.

Freeman Hunt said...

A friend and I discussed this study two nights ago. Each of us had a baby at around the same time, and each of us shed the baby weight at around the same time.

"So let me get this straight, all that work, and now we're more likely to die?"

bandmeeting said...

The real point is to understand the difference between a little baby fat and being a complete tub of goo. I feel very strongly that people in the latter see themselves through a set of fat goggles as just a couple of pounds on the tubby side. They are most certainly not and whatever cardio vascular complications they are causing themselves, they are also accompanying with mobility issues. Here in NYC there is an epidemic of canes and walkers. Get too far over on the heavy side and you are doing your ankles, knees and hips no good at all.

J.P. said...

Epidemiology can suggest explanations, but it cannot decide which one is correct. In this case, the Slate article has an even dozen potential explanations, mostly speculation. We have no idea which speculations are correct, if any, but Slate readers are likely to remember them all as "something that we know from a study".

As for BMI, it is such a bad metric that I think any study that used it should be ignored.

Chuck Currie said...

The data is not relevant to today. Over the next decade as more and more fat type 2 diabetics begin dieing at younger ages than non-diabetics, the argument will change.

Over weight type 2 diabetics are kept alive with pharmacological interventions. This applies to many of the diseases caused or complicated by obesity. Take away the drugs, then see how the numbers work out.

Also, some of those with long term chronic diseases lose weight due to the disease and/or treatment, and therefore are thin when the die, which also skews the data.


Chuck Currie said...

The ability to sit and rise from the floor is closely correlated to all-cause mortality risk.


Of course, age is also closely correlated to all-cause mortality risk. The older you are, the higher the risk of dieing.


President-Mom-Jeans said...

Potentially good news for Garage!

Although, Ann, it is starting to get "Ugly" how you keep repeatedly posting weight and obesity related posts.


Peter said...

Well, being overweight won't kill you. BUT live is still more fun if you're- well, not necessarily skinny, but not overweight.

It's more fun because as you age you'll remain active longer, and possibly postpone many diseases of aging.

Getting old isn't just about dying, it's about the line between being young-old and old-old.

Young-old is when you're still active, with few if any age-related disabilities, even though you're, well, old.

Old-old is when chronic an degenerative diseases set in that limit what you can do.

Who wouldn't want to be young-old until, oh, the last hour or so?

And in any case, "overweight" < "obese." And obesity will kill you.

edutcher said...

Relying on Slate is like relying on Wiki.

The Blonde wants me to put on a little. She says I'm too thin if I get sick.

Mitchell the Bat said...

I keep my weight down purely because I am vain.

If science proved I could live 10 years longer by putting on 50 pounds of blubber I'd tell science to go stuff it.

But I don't mind so much if other people are fat.

Just keep it covered.

Sorun said...

What's considered normal weight should be the current mean of the population for a specific sex & height.

Inga said...

Waist to hip ratios are worth paying attention to. Belly fat isn't inert, neither is any body fat, but the placement of belly fat to vital organs is key.

Super obese people do have significantly higher rates of DJD and metabolic syndrome, with it's bag of goodies.

Christy said...

Sad that 15 extra pounds is judged as obese by so many.

Robert Zaleski said...

What's really funny is that being fat often means you're unable to use your fat. And that often comes about because of an excess of Carbs in our diet which doesn't fill us up, and a fat-phobia because butter and cream are bad for you :-).

So if you ignore everything you've heard except that veggies are good and sugar is bad, and add to that processed food and startches are bad, then you will actually go a long way towards not being fat, and naturally even gaining muscles.

It's just funny how much of "common wisdom" is unfounded FUD spread around.

mccullough said...

BMI is defintiely a Eurotrash way of looking at weight, for the most part. The study does say that very high BMI means earlier death, just like being anorexic does.

Exercise and try and eat well. Don't worry about BMI and any particular amount of weight.

Pragmatist said...

I am sure that "fat" is the next target of the Nanny State. All of the statistics about how much obesity costs "society", how our health care costs are so high because of the fatties. blah blah blah. But now contrary evidence spoils the party. How about a study of the cost to the healthcare system for all of the injuries caused by bicycling-kayaking-mountain climbing yuppies.

Unknown said...

The referenced article shows people trying to reconcile puritanism with facts.

Baron Zemo said...

Although, Ann, it is starting to get "Ugly" how you keep repeatedly posting weight and obesity related posts."

Dude you haven't been paying attention.

That is the most popular topic here.

GRW3 said...

I'm going through another weight loss phase. I've lost 90 lbs this time. I won't promote a specific path because everybody has to find their own but the fundamental is simple calorie math. The related point is that I am using one of the online tracking programs.

That program offers a goal weight nearly thirty pounds below the top of the normal level. I can't imagine getting that low. It's too low for my (previously professionally measured) large frame. Weight loss is tough enough without unrealistic goals. This study tells me that getting to the normal/overweight BMI threshold of 25 may be a better target than mid-normal range value of 20.

DEEBEE said...

Just make up ratios and corelations and viola you have science. Once you have science, people pay attention. Then you can story tell and explain away things that do not people. People still listen because you have science.