First: Unapologetically Fat spotted “Obesity Police’s Shaky Science” in The Baltimore Sun, which starts with:
Why is a thin, male smoker considered a physical role model as president but a full-figured African-American woman is considered an embarrassment as his nominee for surgeon general?
…and moves on to discuss the recent obesity research that finds that overweight people live longer than those in the “normal weight” category. It also points out that what correlations are seen are not very large. The authors’ example?
[T]he reported lung cancer risks for smokers are typically 10 to 20 times higher than for nonsmokers, the death risks for those who are overweight and obese are often closer to only 0.5 above those of normal weight.
Second: From The Atlantic comes “Americal’s Moral Panic Over Obesity“, which features a discussion between Megan McArdle and Paul Campos. One message I thought worth repeating:
Obesity is defined completely arbitrarily as a body mass index of 30 or higher (175 pounds for an average height woman). Now body mass follows more or less a normal distribution, whiich means if the the mean body weight is in the mid to high 20s, which it has been for many decades now, then tens of millions of people will have BMIs just below and just above the magic 30 line. So if the average weight of the population goes up by ten pounds, tens of millions of people who were just under the line will now be just over it.
Most overweight and obese people are not very fat. Only 3-5% of the US population even has a BMI > 40. “Super obese” people are a subset of that.
I do wonder where Campos got this statistic on weight-loss surgery, since I wasn’t able to find statistics when I was looking for them:
At five and ten year followup the average weight loss from these procedures is about 10% to 15% of body mass (it’s actually less than that since lots of people drop out of the studies) which means most of these people end up still “morbidly obese.”
On the other hand, he might’ve gotten that one the way he got this little mot:
I know for a fact (because they’ve told me) that some public health officials engage in what they think of as a noble lie about the effects of physical activity on weight, because they know people won’t become more active just to be healthier.
Is it an age thing that I’m willing to work out because I like how it feels and I want to be stronger?
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