Friday, September 03, 2004



By Sandy Szwarc
Published 08/04/2003

If being overweight is as deadly as we've been told, the evidence should be irrefutable. It's not.

"The conclusion that obesity is dangerous represents a selective review of the data," concluded David Garner, Ph.D., and Susan Wooley, Ph.D., in "Confronting the Failure of Behavioral and Dietary Treatments for Obesity," published by Clinical Psychology Review in 1991.

Their comprehensive examination of studies on obesity-related mortalities and morbidities found repeated design problems, cases where the key conclusions contradicted the data and summaries that selectively chose studies supporting the conclusions of the researchers. Challenging the popular view of obesity-linked mortalities, they said, "a number of epidemiological studies and reviews have concluded either that obesity does not confer elevated health risks or that such risks have been greatly exaggerated."

That's the same conclusion Glenn Gaesser, Ph.D. arrived at after scrutinizing all the relevant data in his book, Big Fat Lies: The Truth About Your Weight and Your Health (Fawcett Columbine, 1996).

"Those beliefs [that obesity is dangerous] are so firmly entrenched in our fat-phobic mindset that they are seldom questioned," Gaesser, an associate professor of exercise physiology at the University of Virginia, wrote. "But they should be. The idea that a given body weight, or a percentage of body fat, is a meaningful indicator of health, fitness, or prospects for longevity is ... one of our most dubious propositions."

In their detailed review of epidemiological studies published in 1987 in the Journal of Obesity and Weight Regulation, researchers Paul Ernsberger, Ph.D., and Paul Haskew, Ed.D., often found no reliable association between premature death and relative weight, as measured by the Body Mass Index (BMI). "Across lifespan, the net impact of BMI is minimal," Ernsberger, an associate professor of Medicine, Pharmacology and Neuroscience, Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, said.

"The majority of investigations have shown that weighing 20 to 50 pounds over chart recommendations is associated with little, if any, increased risk of early death," Dr. Steven Blair, president of the Cooper Institute in Dallas, said.


Post a Comment