Friday, April 29, 2005
Once again the experts haven't a clue when telling us what's normal.
The new analysis found that obesity -- being extremely overweight -- is indisputably lethal. But like several recent smaller studies, it found that people who are modestly overweight have a lower risk of death than those of normal weight.For goodness' sake, why didn't any of these goofballs talk to an anthropologist? It is evolutionarily advantageous to have a certain amount of padding as insurance against times of famine. A chubby population is a sign of a time of stability. A perfect example is the body shape of the people who live in the Kalahari desert. They have big round butts that serve roughly the same function as a camel's hump. This is also true of any group of people subject to periodic deprivation due to geography. Stout scandahoovian maidens are another good example. Check out the statistics for our state as a perfect example.
Biostatistician Mary Grace Kovar, a consultant for the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center in Washington, said "normal" may be set too low for today's population. Also, Americans classified as overweight are eating better, exercising more and managing their blood pressure better than they used to, she said.
The study -- an analysis of mortality rates and body-mass index, or BMI -- was published in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association.
Last year, a CDC study listed the leading causes of preventable death in order as tobacco; poor diet and inactivity, leading to excess weight; alcohol; germs; toxins and pollutants; car crashes; guns; risky sexual behavior; and illicit drugs.
Using the new estimate, excess weight would drop behind car crashes and guns to seventh place -- a ranking the CDC is unwilling to make official, underscoring the controversy inside the agency over how to calculate the health effects of obesity.
Last year, the CDC issued a study that attributed 400,000 deaths a year to mostly weight-related causes and said excess weight would soon overtake tobacco as the top U.S. killer. After scientists inside and outside the agency questioned the figure, the CDC admitted making a calculation error and lowered its estimate three months ago to 365,000.
The new study attributes 111,909 deaths to obesity, but then subtracts the benefits of being modestly overweight, and arrives at the 25,814 figure.
CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding said because of the uncertainty in calculating the health effects of being overweight, the CDC is not going to use the new figure of 25,814 in its public awareness campaigns. And it is not going to scale back its fight against obesity.
"Strengths include ranking first for a low rate of deaths from cardiovascular disease at 259.2 deaths per 100,000 population, a low premature death rate with 5,595 years of potential life lost before age 75 per 100,000 population and a low rate of uninsured population at 8.7 percent. It is also in the top five states for high support for public health, a low percentage of children in poverty, a low total mortality rate, a low infant mortality rate, a low occupational fatalities rate and a high rate of high school graduation. Minnesota's biggest challenges are a high prevalence of obesity at 23.0 percent of the population and low access to adequate prenatal care with 76.0 percent of pregnant women receiving adequate prenatal care."So 23% of the population is obese (making Minnesota fatter than half the country,) and yet that same population has the lowest rate in the nation of cardiovascular disease? Ignore the experts. They're making it up as they go along. Moderation in all things. (Including moderation, on occassion.)
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