G.L.Piggy [at] gmail.com
Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.
Jezebel with the headline “Science Proves That Thinness is Deadlier Than Obesity”. Huh? Not like I don’t know that Jezebel will throw out a sensationalist headline here and there to draw in readers (feel free to not click through so as to not subsidize their lunacy), but this one warrants a deeper look. The lede:
Evidence is mounting that being overweight isn’t as detrimental to one’s health as previously believed. In fact, numerous studies conducted on patients with certain chronic diseases found that those who were overweight to moderately obese had a lower mortality rate than those of normal-weight suffering from the same illness. It’s being called “the obesity paradox.”
They draw (read: cherry-pick) from a New York Times piece on research that finds that obese people suffering from heart failure or undergoing dialysis have better health outcomes than thin people suffering from the same afflictions. Just for background, here are some stats and correlations between high BMI (not a perfect measure, but still useful) and diabetes.
The natural question is whether or not thin people are as prone as the obese to chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease or diabetes. These are two different questions. Overall, all else being equal, being thin is better for your health than being obese. Being “fit” is important. A fit person who is overweight is probably better off than a thin person who is soft and mushy. This mashes up different concepts of fitness and health; regardless, not taxing your internal organs with excess blubber is usually good for your health.
I mean, what’s the logic here? Jezebel’s argument (which they make as part of an activist desire to promote obesity as an alternative to “the ideal” body shape; they’ll contort science to that end) is like saying that it’s actually really good to be blind because you have a better sense of smell or better hearing.
I think these theories from the NYT piece offer some explanation for why thin people who suffer from chronic afflictions fare worse than obese people with the same afflictions:
Some researchers suspect genetics: Maybe thin people who develop diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other chronic ailments have gene variants that make them more susceptible to these illnesses and put them at greater risk once they become ill. Heart disease in thin people may represent a different illness from heart disease in heavier people, Dr. Lavie said.
It may be that doctors do not treat thin patients as aggressively as they do heavier patients — or that the yardstick itself is to blame. Most researchers assess obesity by measuring body mass index, a simple ratio of height and weight. But B.M.I. does not take into account body fat, lean muscle mass, metabolic abnormalities and other nuances of physical composition.