Didja see the latest headlines????
Excess Pounds, but Not Too Many, May Lead to Longer Life
-- N.Y. Times, June 26, 2009
Now how about that!
One might be shocked, unless you read about the huge U.S. government population study (NHANES) which found 86,094 fewer deaths in the overweight range, and 33,746 more deaths in the thin range, compared to "normal" BMI's (18.5 to 24.9).
In fact, every population study I have read confirms this phenomenon.
This particular study analyzed data on 11,326 Canadian adults, ages 25 and older, for a 12-year period. Overweight people (BMI of 25-29.9) were 17 percent less likely to die than those of average weight, while underweight people (BMI less than 18.5) were 73 percent more likely to die than average weight folks.
Apparently, some excess weight is protective, especially for the elderly, who have the greatest risk of dying. Many health conditions associated with being overweight, like high blood pressure, may have developed because people are living so long. However, these conditions are now successfully treated with medication.
In fact, the death rate from cancer in the U.S. is astronomically higher than in India - because Indians generally weigh less, and don't live long enough for cancer to develop! Therefore, the "overweight edge" often augments survival, though media often spins this data negatively. For instance, the cancer study headlines screamed about overweight people being more likely to die of cancer... but never mentioned that it was because they lived longer!
The day before the Canadian story broke, the following headline also hit the N.Y. Times: "Obesity May Have Offered Edge Over TB." This study offered specific evidence confirming that people with excess fat stores were more likely to survive famines, over the course of human evolution.
Fat may not only store energy, but also seems to rev up the body's immune system, which offered a survival advantage in the 1800s, when people were plagued by tuberculosis.
One author from The Journal of the American Medical Association, was quoted saying that this little miracle has "outlived its usefulness," and another doctor said that we are paying a high price for a highly activated defense system that's now pretty obsolete.
Do they actually believe this? What if we were nuked, and our food supply was contaminated? Who might survive to propagate the species? People with a little meat on their bones, I dare say. Survival of the fattest?
Since being "overweight" can be protective, can we finally eliminate the word overweight, and just call it the "healthy weight?" Instead of describing fat as excess weight, can we simply call it a blessing? Or will discrimination and ingrained attitudes continue this charade of making overweight people feel bad about themselves?
If I had my druthers, I would eliminate all demarcations regarding weight, since there are certainly some thin people who outlive some fat people. There are no absolutes, only trends.
"Dr. Abby's Diet Revolution" is ready and willing to lead the way towards becoming your personal best, regardless of size. My life's work teaches people how to lead a relatively healthy lifestyle - without yo-yo dieting, which encourages enjoyment of food and movement. Discrimination towards yourself and others is no longer acceptable. Onward!
To get a FREE copy of Dr. Abby's book, Your Final Diet go to http://www.yourfinaldiet.com/book-promo.html
Dr. Abby Aronowitz is a psychologist, speaker and coach, who completed work at Columbia University. She holds two master's degrees and a Ph.D. Previously a consultant to Weight Watchers International, Dr. Abby has been featured on WebMD.com and AOL Diet and Fitness. She is a member of the American Psychological Association and Mensa.