Amid anti-obesity campaigns – including first lady Michelle Obama’s crusade against childhood obesity – comes a new report skeptical of assertions that weight problems are closely linked to early death.
The report states that there is little credible scientific evidence to support claims that being overweight or obese leads to an early death, and the science behind such claims is “frequently nonexistent or distorted,” according to report authors Patrick Basham and John Luik.
Several studies support the authors’ view, according to Basham, director of the Democracy Institute and a Cato Institute adjunct scholar, and Luik, a Democracy Institute senior fellow. Their report appears on the Spiked website.
For example, Katherine Flegal of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that there were more premature deaths among Americans of normal weight than among the overweight, and in fact those who were overweight were most likely to live the longest.
An analysis by Jerome Gronniger in the American Journal of Public Health noted that men in the “normal” weight category had a mortality rate as high as men in the “moderately obese” category, and men in the “overweight” category had the lowest mortality risk.
A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at various measures of obesity, such as percentage of body fat and waist circumference, and found that those high in body fat percentage and waist circumference had lower mortality rates than others.
And a study published this month in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet “has driven an empirical stake through the heart of the conventional wisdom that being ‘apple shaped’ [with fat concentrated around the waist] increased one’s risk of a heart attack,” Basham and Luik observed.
The 10-year study involving 220,000 people found that waist circumference is not a reliable predictor of cardiovascular disease.
Basham and Luik, authors of “Diet Nation: Exposing the Obesity Crusade,” state: “We continue to find that the case against obesity is significantly flawed.
“All of which should serve to remind us that the success of the obesity crusade rests not on the truth of its science, but on the way in which the obesity entrepreneurs use that science to change policy. Going forward, better policymaking will require, at a minimum, a far greater appreciation of the way in which science and its findings are both misrepresented and used by the obesity crusaders to distort the regulatory process.”