Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

November 6, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

HEALTH UPDATE....Good news! Turns out I'm right in the sweet spot:

The researchers used widely accepted federal definitions of "overweight" and "obesity" based on body mass index (BMI). A BMI of 25 to 30 classifies someone as overweight and above 30 as obese.

....The most surprising finding was that being overweight but not obese was associated only with excess mortality from diabetes and kidney disease — not cancer or heart disease. Moreover, the researchers found an apparent protective effect against all other causes of death, such as tuberculosis, emphysema, pneumonia, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and injuries. An association between overweight and nearly 16,000 deaths from diabetes and kidney disease was overshadowed by a reduction of up to 133,000 deaths from all other non-cancer, non-heart disease causes.

Italics mine. My BMI is currently 28. In other words, perfect. I'll live to be a hundred unless the Ron Paul hordes from the previous post get to me first.

But I still ought to get more exercise.

Kevin Drum 5:04 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (42)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

Who funded the study, Coca Cola?

Posted by: David in NY on November 6, 2007 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

What I would want to know is, is it that being slightly overweight has a protective effect, or does being slightly overweight correlate with affluence, which is the actual source of the protective effect?

Posted by: Steve Simitzis on November 6, 2007 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

This is because BMI is a really, really stupid and lazy way of calculating how healthy someone is. If you have any muscle tone at all you are going to be overweight.

Posted by: slapshot57 on November 6, 2007 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

I think Steve has a great point. I'm 25.5 and heading to 24, but I really want to hear Norman's real or fictional BMI.

Posted by: Bob M on November 6, 2007 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

"If you have any muscle tone at all you are going to be overweight."

Damn.

Posted by: David in NY on November 6, 2007 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

Or does the fat act as a battery, keeping the body going until it heals itself, or until appetite is regained?

Posted by: jim on November 6, 2007 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

I'll live to a hundred unless the Ron Paul hordes from the previous post get to me first.

LMAO. Nice.

Posted by: Disputo on November 6, 2007 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

My BMI is 25.6. If you want to calculate your BMI, see here.

It's stupid, % of body fat is a much better test. The last time I was checked I was at 18%.

My advisor at the U was a fanatic about measurement devices and epistemology. She was right, not nearly enough attention is paid to it.

Posted by: paradox on November 6, 2007 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

So if your BMI is zero you live forever?

Cool.

Defining down. Keep lowering the thresholds. Brings 100's of thousands into their tent. The healthcare/ industrial complex loves ya babe.

Posted by: MsNThrope on November 6, 2007 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

but I really want to hear Norman's real or fictional BMI.

LOL. Me, too.

I enjoy reading and nodding my head at the waist circumference theory of long life, since my waist is quite small and my hips...well, I'm working on it.

Posted by: shortstop on November 6, 2007 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

You cannot use BMI to draw conclusions about your own health. BMI is a simplified metric that is calculable from already existing data, to allow comparisons of large populations at a level of generality that washes out individual differences. For example, BMI comparisons assume that the average fitness of the populations to be compared is equal. (If they're not equal - eg if you're comparing the BMI of West Pointers to the BMI of average college students - then the comparison is invalid.) BMI has no predictive value for any individual person.

Posted by: Bloix on November 6, 2007 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

Exercise will be your salvation.

Posted by: Turner on November 6, 2007 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

Didn't someone point out the difference between association and causation to these guys? How many of them have passed statistics 101? I wonder sometimes.

Posted by: Matt Stevens on November 6, 2007 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

All they have to do now is to find evidence that you are wealthy even if you don't have any money, and I will be on my way to eternal bliss.

Posted by: gregor on November 6, 2007 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

I enjoy reading and nodding my head at the waist circumference theory of long life, since my waist is quite small and my hips...well, I'm working on it.
Posted by: shortstop

I sit here wondering if I can buy back the size 10 long (I'm 5' 9") I foolishly gave to Goodwill.

Honest Injun.

Posted by: MsNThrope on November 6, 2007 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

The results of the study of decades of government data do on first reflection do seem counter intuitive. But then there is one result that may explain it

The proportion of flabby Americans has been rising steadily, and two-thirds are now classified as overweight, including about one-third who have put on so many pounds they qualify as obese.
These figures are so 'broad' they verge on being meaningless and only leave one third of Americans that are average or underweight, and this one third could include all sorts of people and in all kinds of shape and conditions before their BMI was taken. The author's of the paper in 'The Journal of American Medicine' are going to have to give more clarification.

Posted by: Steve Crickmore on November 6, 2007 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

The LA Times just reported on Oct. 31st that a new study by the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund indicates that excess body fat increases the risk of six types of cancers.

The report found a convincing connection between excess fat and cancers of the esophagus, pancreas, colon and rectum, endometrium and kidney, along with breast cancer in post-menopausal women.

Even small amounts of excess body fat, especially if carried at the waist, increase the risk.

Posted by: Rhythmwize on November 6, 2007 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

Assuming that Inkblot is 12 inches high and weighs the now svelte 17.5 pounds, his BMI is 85.4!

Kevin, you need to do something about this.
We can't have an obese president.

INKBLOT FOR PRESIDENT!

Posted by: optical weenie on November 6, 2007 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

All they have to do now is to find evidence that you are wealthy even if you don't have any money, and I will be on my way to eternal bliss.

Dood, that's been tried. The now disgraced GOP managed to convince an amazing number of Merkins (I love that word, given what it really means) that they needed to support the Party of Rising Tides, when most of these people's financial situation was more like Leaky Canoe.

Posted by: shortstop on November 6, 2007 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

Just make sure you're not susceptible to death by bleeding heart or arthritis caused by restless leg (knee jerk) syndrome.

That's what's going to get most of us, where as clearly Republican Leaders have to worry most about Alzheimers (I don't recall).

Posted by: jerry on November 6, 2007 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

>We can't have an obese president.

Ever seen pictures of Taft?

Posted by: MsNThrope on November 6, 2007 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

*

Posted by: mhr on November 6, 2007 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

I think you mean "honest Abe," don't you, Ms.?

Posted by: shortstop on November 6, 2007 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

The public has been told again and again how bad for your health being over weight is. Now the story has changed. Within a year or so we will be informed that global warming is not the threat Al Gore and the gullible liberal press have led us to believe.

You're absolutely right, mhr. If I were you, I'd eat as many polish sausages, bags of Doritos and pans of fudge as possible. Start tonight. Do it all day, every day, and don't waste valuable piehole-stuffing time with exercise. That will show those scumbag liberal scientists.

Posted by: shortstop on November 6, 2007 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

I suspect that Willett is right in suggesting that the study doesn't fully account for factors such as smoking and preexisting illnesses that could skew the findings. Illness is a great way to lose weight, -- and to associate low weight with mortality.

Posted by: Doubter on November 6, 2007 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK

If I were you, I'd eat as many polish sausages, bags of Doritos and pans of fudge as possible. Start tonight. Do it all day, every day, and don't waste valuable piehole-stuffing time with exercise. That will show those scumbag liberal scientists.
Posted by: shortstop

Yeah! Hey, last night I made a nice spicy vegetarian tagine. It was way tasty but I have to confess that I think couscous is boring as hell.

Posted by: MsNThrope on November 6, 2007 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

Rhythmwize, please read the link, it helps. If you had read the story you might have noticed this right in the middle:"It's just rubbish," said Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. .....There are lots and lots of studies that have looked at this. From a health standpoint, it's definitely undesirable to be overweight."

Now, this WaPo story is fair and balanced because the reporter quoted an opposition voice.

Posted by: TJM on November 6, 2007 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

OT:

>Democratic Senators Dianne Feinstein and Chuck Schumer should be ashamed. Today they voted with the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee to approve the nomination of Michael Mukasey as Attorney General.

I am ashamed for them.

Posted by: MsNThrope on November 6, 2007 at 8:18 PM | PERMALINK

bmi 41.8, what does it measure again?

Posted by: supersaurus on November 6, 2007 at 8:22 PM | PERMALINK

MSNTHROPE-did you know that Ron Paul unambiguously rejects the use of torture?

Is that a fruitcake, crackpot position today?

Posted by: Neal on November 6, 2007 at 8:31 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum please renounce your ignorance, look deep into your heart man - look at the big picture. Ron Paul can handle the pointed questions, but lets give him an unbiased audience, instead of the "bussed in and slipped some cash by Romney" audience that is present in such debates as Fox "Go Adolf Guiliani Go" News.

Rudy cross dresses. And has multiple wives. He does not represent the family. America's core is the family. It must persist, the family must be #1 - Ron Paul will place such great family values as a moral guideline, and allow us, the people, to make our own decisions where we live.

It is time to take responsibility for our mistakes as a collective conscience America we must stand up and shout before it is too late:

FREEDOM

Ron Paul 2008

Posted by: Andrew Allen on November 6, 2007 at 8:38 PM | PERMALINK

I'd say you've been eating a bit too much fruitcake of late, Kevin.

Posted by: idlemind on November 6, 2007 at 8:52 PM | PERMALINK

Neal: did you know that Ron Paul unambiguously rejects the use of torture?

And you're addressing this to me why exactly?

Surely this position is not in line with libertarian 'thinking' though is it?

Now kindly explain to me how exactly Mr. Paul is militantly and repressively anti-choice on reproductive issues and anti-legalization of marijuana and is a 'libertarian'?

Just asking.

Posted by: MsNThrope on November 6, 2007 at 9:03 PM | PERMALINK

33.2.

And you can see my obliques.

Posted by: Nick on November 6, 2007 at 9:12 PM | PERMALINK

Paul's anti-legalization, too? Dayum. This guy's no libertarian. He's just another Republican who whines about laws he finds personally inconvenient. Everybody else's liberty be damned.

Posted by: shortstop on November 6, 2007 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK

Doubter alluded to this, but most of these studies that purport to show that being "overweight" is fine have the same problem: the low BMI group includes a disproportionate number of smokers and people with chronic illnesses. Yes, these people are sick - but not because they're thin. They're thin because they're sick. And they drag down the averages of the thin group. I haven't seen this particular study, but from the article, it sure sounds like it has the same methodological problem.

Posted by: Sean Peters on November 6, 2007 at 10:03 PM | PERMALINK

Guess I'm more depressed than the rest of you. Given the possibility of a host of global and national catastrophes (global warming, threat of wars both nuclear and conventional, plagues, population growth, species destruction, loss of US democracy, strengthening of corporate governance, ETC.) are you sure that longevity is in your best interest? If there was ever a time to eat, drink and be merry both physically and metaphysically, it is now.

Posted by: nepeta on November 6, 2007 at 10:38 PM | PERMALINK

I'm 6-6, 190. I have a resting pulse in the mid-upper 50s. I eat MORE THAN 100 PERCENT of my daily fiber. I bake whole wheat bread with stuff like flaxseed and brewer's yeast.

And, at my size/weight, my BMI is "only" 22. At my height, you have to weigh less than 160 pounds to be considered overweight.

In other words, you have to look like you're from Darfur.

Is it any wonder insurance companies love BMI? Especially if they can define obesity as "a pre-existing condition"?

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on November 7, 2007 at 12:33 AM | PERMALINK

Don't always associate overweight with disease. There are many overweight people who are healthy, positive, passionate, and also many FAs appreciate them. I am a FA, and recently on a bbw dating site largesingle.com. If you dont hate overweight people, you should try to get to know them. Then you will know how fabulous they are...

Posted by: Jim on November 7, 2007 at 3:03 AM | PERMALINK

24 at 55 yrs old. Exercise works.

Posted by: kreiz on November 7, 2007 at 6:20 AM | PERMALINK

The post by Bloix on November 6, 2007 at 5:51 PM is spot on. I quote the crucial sentences:

You cannot use BMI to draw conclusions about your own health.

BMI has no predictive value for any individual person.

Therefore people wanting a substantive health discussion will find the whole topic useless.

However, if you want to have fun, go for it! (And they are having fun!) Just don't be misled into thinking that BMI means anything for your health.

Posted by: garymar on November 7, 2007 at 9:44 AM | PERMALINK

I know it's been said, but I just have to say again, if you're dying of one of these ailments you are likely to have become thin because of it. I just have to wonder about these "scientists" who can't seem to get their heads around questions of cause and effect than any first-year humanities major can understand.

Posted by: rabbit on November 7, 2007 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly