Newsweek: Fat and Healthy

Lesley at Fatshionista linked to a good Newsweek article on fat hatred.   While reading it I noticed a related web exclusive by Daniel Heimpel* called Fat and Healthy: Why It’s Possible.

Heimpel discusses some of the research on being fat and healthy (or not), citing Katherine Flegal’s study which found that being overweight decreased the risk of death compared to normal-weight folks, and even moderately obese are not at higher risk than underweight adults. He also discussed surgery survival:

A study published last month in the Annals of Surgery supported this “obesity paradox.” The report, which looked at more than 100,000 patients who had undergone nonbariatric general surgery, found that overweight and moderately obese patients had mortality rates 15 and 27 percent lower, respectively, than normal-weight patients. One of the study’s coauthors, Dr. Donald Moorman, of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, speculated that the excess weight could provide stores of protein to supply the healing process. “Perhaps this group has been identified as doing better because they are less nutritionally depleted, and thus their healing factors are much better,” he says.

Traci Mann’s review of weight-loss studies and Linda Bacon’s HAES study are also featured.  Regarding the CDC’s LEAN Works site, Heimpel cites data that contradicts the LEAN Works claims.  Overall the article is well worth bookmarking, not only for a good overview of the data but also for the links to various studies.

One little-known item I thought interesting:  “In the 1970s, the average BMI in the U.S. was 24. Today, the average BMI is only three points higher, at 27.”

The Fat on Film: How Obesity is Portrayed in Hollywood slideshow is also better than I expected.

Friday (8/28/09) update: The Fat Nutritionist also contributed a piece for Kate Dailey’s Newsweek blog. Enjoy!

*Full disclosure:  Heimpel contacted me in email a few weeks ago to ask if I though the LEAN Works program was discriminatory.  My response (summarized) is that I think  LEAN Works would encourage a culture of discrimination and waste of resources for little or no benefit.  (I did not expect to be quoted because I didn’t give my full name. :)



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8 responses to “Newsweek: Fat and Healthy”

  1. shyvixen Avatar

    I was really surprised to see an article like this in a mainstream publication. And then I had to spoil it all by reading the comments. Did none of these people actually read the article?!

    Also, I live in Denver and I really wish the media would stop saying that fat-hating idiot Michael Karolchyk is from Denver – he’s San Diego’s problem now, thank god!

    1. living400lbs Avatar

      Oh yeah. Don’t read the comments.

  2. William Avatar


    Thanks for the article. They printed another one today


    1. living400lbs Avatar

      Interesting – that’s the “Fat and Healthy”, only with a different title. Could be the “Fat and Healthy: Why it’s possible” is a short title they use on their sidebar?

  3. Regina T Avatar
    Regina T

    I just finished reading the Newsweek article you linked and while Im happy to see mainstream media embracing the possibility of fat NOT equalling fat, lazy, gluttony, after reading the comments it’s glaringly obvious that we still have a long way to go.

    I did find that the article did a good job of pinpointing the source and reasoning behind why people project so much hatred on fat people…even when they themselves are fat. The example they gave (and Im paraphrasing here) of a co-worker not meeting deadlines because they took too many personal calls and themselves not meeting deadlines because of factors out of their control (vendors being late, boss changing things, etc) was a poignant and relavent one.

    If only people got that. Truly. If only people GOT THAT. In my own personal la-la-dreamland….people would accept the reality of the science that our bodies resist with mighty force the notion of weight loss because of basic survival instincts. People would see the PERSON in front of them instead of the FAT, and not project their own insecurities, perceptions, and prejudices onto that person. Doctors would treat the actual health problems of fat people instead of dismissing the symptoms because the patient is fat. And so on.

    But that world exists only in my mind…otherwise, butterflies would speak.

    Thanks for the link. You might be interested in this Time magazine article about exercise and fat. Let me know what you think.,8599,1914857,00.html

  4. Piffle Avatar

    Fat, particularly abdominal fat is also a good source of stem cells. I can intuit that having more stem cells would make it easier to repair tissues, though I have no evidence of that.

    I think it particularly interesting that if you just transplant the fat stem cells they help with spinal cord injuries.

  5. JM Avatar

    That article was nice to see.

  6. […] are no health issues that only fat people have, which makes it hard to believe that weight alone causes them or that losing weight is […]

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