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Debunking of popular myths - helen-louise
baratron
baratron
Debunking of popular myths
The relationship between weight & mortality risk, by Paul Campos of the Rocky Mountain News. Linked by firecat.

Why worry about terrorist attacks? You are much more likely to die from smoking or be killed in a car crash, by Lionel Shriver in the Guardian. Linked by .

Forbes on career women, shaken into common sense by the lovely epi_lj & his friend belladonna_.

I believe in science. T-shirts now available.

And, because I need cheering up after those links, splodefromcute bears!

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esbat From: esbat Date: 26th August 2006 08:04 (UTC) (Link)
I can't resist commenting on my pet subject. In an attempt to keep the weight message as easy to understand as possible it has been oversimplified. This unfortunately leads to people who don't really understand it, journalists in particular, constantly uncovering a conspiracy when all they have discovered is that the true picture is more complicated. Being overweight per se does not increase your mortality risk. Obesity and morbid obesity do though and the government sees overweight as being on the road to obesity and therefore bad. However, it gets even more complicated. Being overweight does increase your risk of morbidity, e.g osteoarthritis, diabetes, gall bladder disease, various cancers, etc., but most of these things dont start to affect your mortality until you get to your 60s and 70s. An overweight 60-70 year old who has been overweight their whole life is more likely to have an ill-health chronic condition than someone who has been a normal weight their whole life. That's why these studies are so misleading when you don't have the whole picture.

It becomes even more confusing when you take into account exercise. Regular exercise can negate some, but not all, of the associated morbidity of being overweight over the years. In fact, being overweight and exercising regularly is healthier (morbidity-wise) than being a normal weight and not exercising at all. The best outcome in terms of morbidity and mortality is to be in the normal BMI range (it's only a vague guide after all) and to be fit and active. Hence why the message is simplified in that way. To try and present the true picture would just confuse most of the people that the message is aimed at and it is after all a public health message, not a proclamation of scientific accuracy.
johnckirk From: johnckirk Date: 26th August 2006 13:30 (UTC) (Link)
Regarding the weight/mortality issues, I did a post recently about some of the indirect risks there. For instance, it's tricky to do the Heimlich manoevre if you can't actually reach your arms all the way around the other person.
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