The obesity epidemic - a myth?

Discussion in 'General Weight Loss Discussion' started by PurpleButterfly, 18 October 2009 Social URL.

  1. PurpleButterfly

    PurpleButterfly 16lb to go!

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    I've just been reading a whole load of interesting stuff and I'd like to bounce it off you guys and see what you think? I appreciate this may be fairly long; sorry about that! It just felt like a bit of a sledgehammer through all my beliefs about being overweight so I thought I'd share!

    I've been doing some reading (of research papers & books) about the so-called 'obesity epidemic' - much of which says there is no such thing. That in terms of mortality rates, being in the 'overweight' category of BMI means that in terms of blood pressure, blood lipids (cholesterol), heart disease, and other things I can't remember it's the healthiest category. There are also lower mortality rates than those in the 'healthy' BMI category. In fact mortality rates only begin to pick up significantly when you get above bmi35. Even then when you take into account that many people will take extreme measures at that size like weight loss surgery (and complications), diet pills (some have side effects of heart problems and weight gain), fad diets, yoyo dieting, etc, the mortality rates plummet. But mortality rates are greatest in the severely underweight. The actual obesity in itself isn't the problem! There has also been other research showing that it may be healthful eating and exercise that is a greater contributor to health. One study compared people who are overweight but eat healthily/take exercise, and those who had 10kgs taken off with liposuction. That should show if it is the weight itself or the lifestyle that was the problem. Guess what? the healthier people were the first group.

    Apparently in the 1980's to be 'healthy' the BMI boundary was 27. Then they moved it to 25, thus many people suddenly became overweight having been healthy; without gaining a lb. That there has been an average weight increase but only of about 3 to 5 kg, and some studies have shown that since 2001 I think, this has stabilised. Likewise there has been a small increase in those over 35bmi but only slight. But that slight increase in overall weight has nudged more people into the 'obese' category that were previously sitting under the line. So much for a massive increase in those who are overweight!

    The most famous research (done by the JAMA/Journal of American Medical health) that showed about obesity being linked to high mortality rates - the first paper saying obesity accounted for 400,000 deaths. The other saying obesity accounted for 30,000 deaths. In actual fact they did not control for many different things such as diet, exercise levels, family medical history etc. Yet the media got hold of this and .. the rest is history. In unbiased research (i.e. not funded by pharmaceutical companies etc), there has only been weak evidence to suggest that there is any link made between being 'obese' and being unhealthy. Yet the diet industry makes billions per year.

    In fact one paper I read suggested that in times of great social change in society, people look to project their anxieties onto one particular group. That group becomes the scapegoat for all that is 'bad' and immoral in society. Otherwise known as a moral panic. Given the levels of prejudice against obesity is it not plausible that this could be the case?

    What do you think???
     
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  3. KD

    KD Gone fishing

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    Tehee, had to smile when I read this. What with that conversation we had earlier this week about leptin, and now this. You appear to be following the footsteps I made with research :D

    Do I believe it? Well...kind of, but then I also believe that regardless of the type, most people lose the weight, not for the long term health benefits (or perceived benefits) but for appearance and to feel better in themselves healthwise 'in the now'.

    I could be wrong of course, but I did a number of polls all over the place when I got to goal, asking people what they ate, whether they had ever had weight issues, if they wanted to lose weight 'why' and how, and whether they were successful etc etc.

    People quickly said they wanted to for their health, but when questioned further, it wasn't really the case. I remember saying that if they were told eating well would give them good health, but their size wouldn't change, would they still eat well, and not surprisingly, most said they wouldn't. The aim was to lose weight for other reasons.

    So in the end, it appears that there is mass type about obesity being unhealthy, but the social side of obesity is more important to the majority (IMO).

    I guess I think the majority of people who are very obese, more often than not have health issues, or will have, but then I wonder why so much emphasis is put on losing weight, rather than cutting cigarettes. Admittedly, these last few years there has been more pressure to stop smoking, but this is a much more recent thing.

    BTW, ever looked into the flaws of the Dr Ancel Keyes research? Ancel Keyes was one of the biggest influences of people taking a low fat diet.
     
  4. PurpleButterfly

    PurpleButterfly 16lb to go!

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    :D KDeee! Actually it's funny I was going to mail this just to you but then I thought I'd throw it out to the wider minimins community! Haha! I'm doing this for my own research project so that's what has led me down this path. But still I just find this fascinating!

    So in response. Yes it is quite understandable that the reasons people lose weight are for social reasons rather than health. In fact I would be more surprised by it being the other way around.

    People in society link morality with eating behaviour. If you are overweight you are lacking in self control, self discipline and do not care for yourself. You cannot overcome needs of the flesh and seen only short term pleasure. Therefore seen in this way of course there is prejudice towards obesity - to shame people into conforming with the morals of society and losing weight. Therefore as a consequence, of course those who are obese want to be able to fit into society and not be stigmatized into a minority group.

    No I've never even looked at Dr Ancel Keyes' work - Sounds interesting I must do that!

    This seems like a complete revelation to me - especially as you said, on the back of all the leptin stuff! Put the pieces all together and suddenly it's no wonder there's a so-called obesity crisis!
     
  5. Lynn8124

    Lynn8124 Gold Member

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    Interesting. My Dad is about 12st at 5ft 7, bmi calculator says he's in the overweight catagory(26.3), yet he walks 4-8 miles a day every day with the dogs at a naturally quick pace. At 61 he is in pretty good health, doesn't smoke, drinks occasionally. His father died at 66 but he was 15st, took no exercise, smoked and drank plenty.

    For me personally I now wonder should I aim for a bmi of 30 at 12st 12? I definately think that'd be easier for me to maintain than 10st 4 (though 8st 11 is at the back of my mind but who am I trying to kid? lol):rolleyes:

    I briefly heard of Ancel Keys in Paul Mckenna's book. Apparently the 1500 cals a day his subjects were on was called semi-starvation.
     
    Last edited: 21 October 2009
  6. Purple_Star

    Purple_Star Silver Member

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    Interesting stuff. I must look into this too. Thanks.
     
  7. shrinkingannie

    shrinkingannie Gold Member

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    I work in occupational health and I measured the BMI of over 800 men all doing heavy manual work, most looked fit and healthy but were classed overweight going by their BMI - ususally measuring about 28 - 32 so I definitely think BMI is flawed especially in taller men. But I dont know about the rest of the research - I think we are definately getting fatter as a race, it is visable when you walk around town but maybe not as much as we are led to believe. Id like to read some of those papers - it seems fascinating. Maybe its ok to be overweight but not ok to do no exercise or eat junk food, but the perk of being healthy is to look better.
     
  8. Lynn8124

    Lynn8124 Gold Member

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    Then there's the obese kids epidemic, I still think the 'fat kid at school' is the odd one out still, as always. Oh I dunno. *shrug*
     
  9. The Rose

    The Rose Rosie

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    A number of years ago, a BMI of 27 or less was considered a "heathy" weight. Now, recent large-scale population studies showed that a BMI of less than 25 was now the healthy range. So overnight an entire segment of the population became overweight, without gaining a pound.

    We could also look at our olympic athletes and their bmi - because quite a lot of them are regarded as overweight if we look at the bmi scale - but off course that isnt the case.

    I truely believe it's unrealistic for many people to get below a BMI of 25. When the bar is set too high, most of us give up and do nothing. It's just too defeating.

    We need to return to a more realistic way of looking at the weight issue. It's the big picture that counts - including blood pressure, blood sugar, blood fats, and the lifestyle activities that support them (eating, activity, no smoking, stress control), with weight being one of the factors, but not the only focus.

    Great discussion thread by the way!!
     
    Lynn8124 likes this.
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