We recently discussed the apparent contradiction between the facts that America is fatter than ever and people are living longer than ever. BMI is the determining factor in declaring Americans overweight.
However, the theory which says America should be suffering health problems and increased mortality because of increased obesity is quite wrong.
So why are death rates dropping and people living longer? Something must be wrong with the model — it’s pretty hard to quarrel with the data as being inadequate. Certainly the increased incidence of obesity should have produced something by this time (it started 30 years ago).
In case you have been living in a cave or something, there are several serious flaws with the BMI which make it unsuitable for determining health. A new German study by Matthias Lenz of the Faculty of Mathematics, Computer Science, and Natural Sciences of the University of Hamburg and his co-authors present these and other results in the current issue of Deutsches Ärtzeblatt International:
The Süddeutsche Zeitung published an advance notice of the report (http://www.sueddeutsche.de/gesundheit/140/489526/text/), which shows that overweight does not increase death rates, although obesity does increase them by 20%. As people grow older, obesity makes less and less difference.
For coronary heart disease, overweight increases risk by about 20% and obesity increases it by about 50%. On the other hand, a larger BMI is associated with a lower risk of bone and hip fracture.
In relation to cancer, the overall death rate among extremely obese men (BMI above 40) is no higher than among those of normal weight. Men who are overweight even have a 7% lower death rate. No significant association was found in women.
According to the authors’ analysis, overall mortality is unchanged by overweight, but increased by 20% by obesity, while extreme obesity raises it by up to 200%.
Futurepundit raises a few interesting points:
What I’m expecting: Genetic testing might show us what our relative risks are for a large variety of diseases and this knowledge could push us toward different ideal weights depending on which diseases we have the greater risks for. Also, some people are probably genetically better adapted to carrying more weight.
Note that you have other options for slowing bone decay aside from carrying more weight around. Exercise, better food, and a combination of vitamin D and vitamin K might cut bone fracture risks with age.
Weight studies are problematic because weight can vary due to muscle mass as well (albeit less often). Also, people can lose weight during the early stages of an illness before they even know they are sick. How well did the researchers adjust for these factors?
According to the CDC:
BMI is a fairly reliable indicator of body fatness for most people.
In light of this new study, will the CDC change it stance on using BMI data as a way of reliably gauging the health of Americans?
If the BMI chart is based on an illogical formula concocted over 200 years ago and can only give a general assessment of obesity in a population while failing on an individual level, why is it still in use by the government?
We would not bet on it because it is not the first time nanny staters in the government have used bogus data to justify their agendas regardless of scientific truth, nor will it be the last. Rather than letting those busybodies get you down, learn how to eat your way to happiness. Being drunk and gassy is one recent formula for living a long life, although can easily be a life of bachelorhood if you are not careful to find the right wine/broccoli balance.