Tag Archives: obesity paradox.

Paradoxically(?!) Fatter Diabetics Live Longer

A few days ago a new study was released which indicates that of people living with type-2 diabetes, those in the overweight category live the longest.  They even live longer than those in the “healthy weight” category.  Newspaper articles like these (TRIGGER WARNING FOR UBIQUITOUS HEADLESS FATTY SHOT) are quick to cite this as another example of the “obesity paradox”.  In case you are unfamiliar with this term, the obesity paradox refers to the fact that despite the fact scientists arbitrarily chose to name a lower weight category “healthy weight” or “normal weight”, the pesky fact remains that those of a higher weight on average live longer.  And while people in the “overweight” category are more likely to contract certain diseases than those in the “healthy weight” category (such as cardiovascular disease) they are more likely to survive these diseases for a longer time.  It’s vexing.  Because, not only does this mess up the whole color scheme of the pretty BMI charts, it also means that we’ve been telling people to slim down to a weight that just might not be in their best interest.

One wonders how long the medical establishment is going to cling to this description of the “obesity paradox”, when the solution is so very simple.  Change your labels.  Change your definition of “healthy weight”.  In fact stop saying “healthy weight” altogether.  Because while certain weights have some advantages over others in some arenas, they are more dangerous than others.  For example recent research indicates that the fattest people are the least likely to suffer from dementia at an early age.

The medical establishment and world at large are unlikely to change these labels any time soon however.  The reason?  Cash.  Money.  Cabbage. Moolah.  Being able to charge over and over again for obesity treatments that don’t work is big money.  Adding the word “obesity” to your research proposal increases the chances of getting funding and increases the amount of funding you are likely to get.  Heck, as Harriet Brown’s excellent article in the Atlantic states–even mentioning the word “obesity” in a medical exam might mean you are able to collect more money for that patient.  That’s why we classify obesity as a disease, even when expert panels in the medical establishment recommended against it.

I wonder when we are going to publicly accept the real obesity paradox.  That we have a situation that occurs naturally in a certain segment of the population, that in some cases is potentially harmful and in some cases is potentially beneficial.  Yet we label it a disease and focus billions of dollars towards trying (unsuccessfully) to change it, without any evidence that changing it will in fact, make people healthier, happier or live longer.  That, to me, is the quintessential definition of a paradox.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

Want to book me to speak at your event?  Click HERE to learn more.

Advertisements

New Study Suggests Fat Correlated With Lower Risk For Dementia

FatBrain

Nearly 60 percent of the brain is composed of fatty acids.

Previously we heard that obesity increased your risk of dementia.  Now a new study contradicts these former findings and suggests that increased body size is correlated with a decreased risk for dementia.  I say correlated with, because no causal link has yet been found.  And we don’t want to go the way of those finger pointers who say that being fat “causes” sickness by saying being fat “prevents” sickness.  We simply don’t know that much yet.

However, this new study does seem to indicate that there is a strong correlation between low body weight and dementia in middle aged people.  The study reviewed statistics for nearly 2 Million people from the United Kingdom Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD).  The CPRD data included people over 40 who had their BMI measured between 1992 and 2007.  (The median age for those measured was 55.)

The study found that compared to those of a “healthy weight” (heavy airquotes here) those who were underweight (BMI less than 20) had a 34% higher risk for dementia.  As people got fatter, their risk for dementia decreased–with the fattest people (BMI over 40) experiencing a 29 percent lower risk of dementia than those with “healthy weight”.

Cue the inevitable articles about the “obesity paradox”.  This is the title given to the fact that fat people are at lower risk for certain conditions than skinny people, despite the medical establishment’s insistence that this shouldn’t be the case.  This is the label given to the fact that overall, “overweight” people live longer than “healthy weight” people.  It really makes me wonder when they are finally going to do away with the “healthy weight” label, since in many cases, other weights are healthier than the healthy weight level.  And it also makes me wonder when they are going to stop calling something a paradox, when it clearly isn’t one.  Some weight ranges come with higher risks in some areas and lower risks in other areas.  And maybe we will come to realize that there isn’t one healthy weight, but rather a range of risks that slide around in various places on the BMI chart.

As reported by the BBC (LINK WARNING, HEADLESS FATTY PHOTOS GALORE) Alzheimer’s Society’s Dr Doug Brown said: “People should make positive lifestyle choices to keep their brains healthy by taking regular exercise, not smoking and following a healthy balanced diet.”  This seems sound HAES oriented advice to me.  Naturally, despite the fact that this study is much larger and more detailed than previous studies that claimed that obesity increased the risk for dementia, there’s a lot of head scratching and backpedaling going on.  The article is careful to point out that there is no clear causal link yet evident (hence the opening of this blog post).  If you have the sanity points to spare, you can click on that BBC link earlier in this paragraph to read things like, “Sure you’ll be less likely to get dementia if you live long enough.”  and “This is no excuse to sit on the couch and eat an extra piece of cake.”  Because somehow, no matter what the evidence shows, some medical professionals just have to get their jab in at the fatties.

I am just hopelessly naive enough to imagine a day when the “healthy weight” category is called something else.  I imagine that over time we will find more and more evidence that being fat has risks, being skinny has risks and being midsized has risks.  After all, being alive has risks, for people of all sizes.  Maybe we can finally focus on living the best, most productive, most joyful and healthiest life in the bodies we have right now.

Food for thought.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)