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Healing approaches mentioned in this blog are for educational purposes only. Suggested supplements, etc. should not be used as replacements for conventional medical treatment without guidance from a licensed and trained medical professional.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Correlation is Not Causation: Fat is not bad!

Why your fat won’t kill you.

I went to a seminar on obesity, weight loss and menopause about a month ago and I’m still digesting what went on there.  The first speaker was a bariatric surgeon. He admitted to this statistic that I’ve seen while researching various weight loss options: 95% of people who lose weight on diets gain back every pound within three years. He was quoting that to promote gastric bypass as a way to lose weight. 

“In the more than forty years that bariatric surgeries have been performed, there have been no randomized, controlled clinical trials that have shown any long-term improvements to actual health or that lives are saved or extended by these surgeries — not any of the dozens of types and variations being performed, and certainly none of the new procedures claiming to be better and safer. According to obesity researcher, Dr. Ernsberger, Ph.D., of Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, Cleveland, Ohio, several clinical studies to examine the long-term consequences and look for improved life expectancies have been started but the results were never released. “I think it’s because it’s bad news.” Quoted from the blog, Junkfood Science, by Sandy Szwarc, BSN, RN, CCP.

The ECRI report,Bariatric Surgery for Obesity,” noted that the surgeries can produce significant initial weight loss but “three years after surgery, the typical patient is still obese.” (Also quoted from Junkfood Science.)

Speaker after speaker at this seminar would pay lip service to the statistics that it is almost impossible to lose weight and keep it off, then turn right around and promote diet strategies, weight loss programs such as the HCG injections, and not discuss what a fat or any size person can do to be healthy without worrying about their weight. Some claimed that the cost of obesity health care is increasing everyone’s insurance premiums. 

The CDC’s latest estimate is that an additional 112,000 deaths per year can be ASSOCIATED with obesity. So there is only a .12% increase in death risk if obese. Some of the statistics used to claim the obese are increasing our insurance rates included everyone with hypertension, diabetes, stroke, etc. I know plenty of thin people with these problems as well. I’m sure you do too.

I’m beginning to think the whole obesity crisis is a made up marketing scheme. When I was in college we measured our percent body fat with calipers and the water tank. I had 15% body fat then (very low for a woman) while some teeny tiny gals had 30 and 40% body fat. The trend now is to calculate Body Mass Index (weight in pounds divided by height in inches squared times 703.) This is why so many athletes are “overweight” when BMI is calculated, as the calculation does not take into consideration muscle mass and build. BMI was never meant to measure individual people, it was a statistical tool to measure populations’ obesity. This whole “obesity crisis” stuff came about when the BMI parameters for obesity changed in 1998. One day you were “normal” BMI and the next you could be “overweight”, overnight, at the same weight.

More than ¾ the studies that tracked death rates and weight did not show that the thinnest people live the longest. Glenn Gaessser’s review of heart disease medical literature revealed no correlation between body fat and atherosclerosis. “Clogged arteries are the leading cause of death for Americans, yet after more than five decades and tens of thousands of autopsies, the studies show that fat people are no more likely than thin to have clogged arteries.” (Paraphrased from “Fat! So? by Marilyn Wann)

Some people who get adult-onset diabetes are fat. Some are not. Regardless, treatment centers have found that when diabetics improve their diet and exercise habits, they can lessen the severity of their diabetes and even normalize their blood sugars. These improvements happen even if they don’t lose any weight at all.

The Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research has an ongoing study of 30,000 people which has found that those who are fittest live the longest, no matter what they weigh. Fat people who exercise regularly live longer than thin people who don’t. What does this all mean? If you have a healthy diet and moderate exercise, even if you don’t lose weight, you will live longer, barring accidents, than someone who does not have a healthy diet and does not do moderate exercise. This means a person who weighs 300 pounds can be healthy, especially if the other signs (blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol) are within normal limits. I think that this statement will shock alot of people. You can’t tell, just by looking at someone, how fit they are.

Some statistics I’ve read say that childhood obesity has leveled off or even decreased since 2005, so maybe some of the obesity panic has helped parents get their children more active and make better food choices. Some people in the natural health realm use the obesity crisis as a way to get people to pay attention to industrial farming practices or various chemicals in our foods that mimic hormones. I think we should still be concerned about that. Just don’t show that concern by putting down or bullying someone who appears fat.

I could go on and on, and I will, later. Tell me what you think?

I took too much information from:
Junkfood Science
The Fat Nutritionist
FAT! SO? by Marilyn Wann, c1998, Ten Speed Press
Shapely Prose

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