Dark Bilious Vapors

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors....
--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Meditation I

Home » Archives » April 2005 » From the "Good News - Bad News" Department...

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04/22/2005: From the "Good News - Bad News" Department...

Now, THIS is what I’ve needed to read from the editorial column of the NY Times: You Can Be Too Thin, After All. *wink*

”The latest study of obese and overweight Americans upends much of what we thought we knew about the health dangers of excess poundage. After decades of dire warnings to slim down if we want to survive to a ripe old age, it now turns out that a modest amount of "excess" weight may actually be good for you, while being too thin can be dangerous.

This perplexing message comes from a study that looks like the most authoritative analysis yet of the relationship between mortality and the "body mass index," a measure that correlates weight to height. The study was conducted by highly respected statisticians and epidemiologists with no visible axes to grind at two federal agencies: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Cancer Institute. It was published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The most striking finding was that people defined as overweight but not obese had a lower risk of death than people of normal weight. Indeed, their excess pounds may have prevented some 86,000 deaths annually. That estimate has exploded like a bombshell amid the health officials struggling to control the undeniable upsurge of obesity here and abroad. It leaves the C.D.C., in particular, with a lot of explaining to do.

Last year researchers from that health agency concluded that obesity and overweight were killing some 400,000 people a year in this country (later revised downward to 365,000). These figures were cited extensively in promoting a campaign to control obesity. Now the new study has put the toll at a small fraction of that. The study makes it clear that obesity, especially extreme obesity, can be lethal, causing some 112,000 extra deaths per year nationwide. But when the benefits of being modestly overweight are factored in (the 86,000 deaths prevented), the net excess mortality for all three categories is only 26,000. The C.D.C. needs to say, loud and clear, whether it believes the estimates. The whole notion of what constitutes normal weight and overweight may have to be rethought.

For now, slightly pudgy individuals would be wise not to take the findings as a license to overindulge. No one study in this topsy-turvy field can be considered definitive, especially since it is notoriously difficult to disentangle obesity from other causes of death. The new study looked only at death rates and did not address the impact of excess weight on developing diabetes and other ailments that are clearly not good for you.

One mystery is just why being modestly overweight may be beneficial. Some speculate that excess pounds may help an elderly person weather a medical crisis. Another theory is that excess weight is not really good for you, but that its effect has been blunted by medications and diet and exercise changes that lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Some experts fear that sooner or later, excess weight will again reveal its damaging impact.

With so much uncertainty, health-conscious Americans will want to keep their weight under control but perhaps not fret too much if they miss their weight goal by a bit.”

This is especially Good News after I found this one that qualifies as “things I really DIDN"T want to think about this weekend.” (and P.S.-- Thanks Matt for destroying my self-esteem for a couple of days...Bleh!)

From McSweeney's:


by Matt Schweiger

"Your average 12-year-old boy is about 5 feet tall, weighs in the area of a buck-fifteen, and has developed little muscle mass...."

[Tho' having a bit 'o' experience with a lot of them 12 year olds as a whole...I think Ole' Matt has his *sizeable figures* a bit off. But taking him at his word -- Gee, Guess I qualify in the *range* of being like a "12 year old Boy" according to those stats. How unflattering is THAT! LOL]

But, Oh Joy! The NY Times has come my "emotional rescue" with more rationales to illustrate that I can work on that “poundage” but not be Too Worried while I get to my goal.

Way to Go NY Times!!! (And Thanks!) :-D

Karen on 04.22.05 @ 05:12 AM CST

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