4 votes

Scientists now think that being overweight can protect your health

15 comments

  1. [2]
    Deimos
    Link
    This article is almost 6 years old, has there been any further confirmation or refutation?

    This article is almost 6 years old, has there been any further confirmation or refutation?

    14 votes
    1. imperialismus
      Link Parent
      Here's one large cohort study that seems to find a robust relationship between high BMI and mortality. The "J-shaped distribution" they mention (basically being underweight or overweight is bad...

      Here's one large cohort study that seems to find a robust relationship between high BMI and mortality. The "J-shaped distribution" they mention (basically being underweight or overweight is bad for you, being normal weight is good) seems to be mentioned a lot in recent publications.

      Also interesting: the concept of the metabolically healthy obese, individuals who are obese but have healthy levels on a bunch of metabolic measurements like cholesterol. They may have the same risk of getting certain diseases like cancer or diabetes as normal weight individuals, but may still have higher mortality overall for other reasons. A prototypical example being sumo wrestlers. They are extremely physically active, so even though they have a lot of fat, most of it is subcutaneous rather than visceral, which is much healthier overall.

      9 votes
  2. teaearlgraycold
    Link
    I’m extremely skeptical mostly because this is something that so many people want to be true that the idea can be carried across the internet on wishful thinking alone. It’s like the multitude of...

    I’m extremely skeptical mostly because this is something that so many people want to be true that the idea can be carried across the internet on wishful thinking alone. It’s like the multitude of published research on the benefits of eating chocolate. You’re telling me that one of humanity’s favorite treats is also a key facet to a healthy diet? And the same goes for coffee? And a little wine is good for you too?

    I think the risk here is in telling people that are overweight that they are on the right track and need no changes to their health. One thing that we know with certainty is paramount to health, longevity, disease recovery, disease avoidance, and happiness is regular exercise. Don’t get distracted by what is at best a statistically significant local maximum.

    To be clear you can be overweight and still exercise regularly. An overweight person that does plenty of cardio is surely at an advantage to a skinny person that can’t run even one mile.

    13 votes
  3. [10]
    NoblePath
    Link
    Perhaps the explanation is that bmi is a terrible indicator. People with a lot of muscle mass will have an overweight bmi.

    Perhaps the explanation is that bmi is a terrible indicator. People with a lot of muscle mass will have an overweight bmi.

    10 votes
    1. [10]
      Comment deleted by author
      Link Parent
      1. NoblePath
        Link Parent
        NPR, and many other sources, and my nutritionist, and my doctor all disagree with your conclusion. (https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=106268439) I ride 50-150 miles on my bike...

        NPR, and many other sources, and my nutritionist, and my doctor all disagree with your conclusion. (https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=106268439)

        I ride 50-150 miles on my bike a week. Which is more than most people’s weekly exercise, but not that much really, 4-9 hours of riding. I have a really high bmi, 31, but am most definitely not obese. I have like 16” thighs, all muscle.

        Similarly, people with big frames and thick bones give high bmi, but are not outside actual lean body mass levels.

        Bmi may be fine for sedentary people, but for anyone following an exercise regimen, no. And for someone w from sedentary to active, its tragic if their doctor makes recommendations based on an unchanged bmi while ignoring a decreased waistline (again, my personal experience, except my bmi increased, and I had a good doc recognized the changes).

        9 votes
      2. [9]
        Comment deleted by author
        Link Parent
        1. [8]
          teaearlgraycold
          Link Parent
          You might change your mind after a drive across America.

          but it's not that much of an outlier

          You might change your mind after a drive across America.

          7 votes
          1. [7]
            EgoEimi
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            I remember repatriating to the US after living abroad for several years in Europe, where many people are overweight but not obese. My first stop was O'Hare Airport in Chicago. I remember Americans...

            I remember repatriating to the US after living abroad for several years in Europe, where many people are overweight but not obese.

            My first stop was O'Hare Airport in Chicago.

            I remember Americans being overweight. But the first-hand experience of seeing so many people struggling to walk unassisted (nearly teetering and toddling) was... very shocking.

            Granted, I saw some people who were very physically built and are outliers to the BMI system. But the majority of heavy people I saw were clearly obese.

            The idea that an unintuitive excess of body fat could be healthy in certain aspects... sounds plausible to me. But I worry that people will interpret this research as a validation of obesity.

            In America we badly need to redesign our way of life — our urban environments, diets, work lifestyles, etc. — to reduce obesity. It would greatly improve not only objective metrics like life expectancy and healthcare cost burden but also general quality of life.

            10 votes
            1. [6]
              petrichor
              Link Parent
              Aside from diet, what are some aspects of Europe that encourage being healthy more than the United States?

              Aside from diet, what are some aspects of Europe that encourage being healthy more than the United States?

              2 votes
              1. [5]
                Tygrak
                Link Parent
                I never visited the US, but from what I heard for quite a large percentage of people the only mode of transport available is cars. In Europe a lot of people use trains and buses every day, which...

                I never visited the US, but from what I heard for quite a large percentage of people the only mode of transport available is cars. In Europe a lot of people use trains and buses every day, which has to include some walking at the beginning and end. This of course wouldn't explain everything and is just an example I thought of. And there are definitely problems with too many people being overweight in most countries of Europe too.

                8 votes
                1. [4]
                  teaearlgraycold
                  Link Parent
                  Given that losing and gaining weight is mostly about diet I would guess that we don't need to discover any other major factors to explain the difference between Europe and America. Walking to and...

                  Given that losing and gaining weight is mostly about diet I would guess that we don't need to discover any other major factors to explain the difference between Europe and America. Walking to and from a bus stop might burn a couple hundred calories. You can undo that in 10 seconds of eating.

                  I try to eat healthy in America. In some aisles of the grocery store you need to pass over 9 out of 10 options in order to reach something that doesn't have tons of sugar or cheap grains. When eating out there are very few healthy options. Not to mention that every establishment that sells food specializes in sugary drinks. Starbucks, boba (the default sugar level is sickeningly sweet), a surprising number of places with milkshakes, and every other place in between will offer you a fountain drink.

                  And I live in what's considered to be one of the more health-conscious areas of the country. The fact that good healthy food exists here makes us special.

                  5 votes
                  1. [3]
                    Thra11
                    (edited )
                    Link Parent
                    I don't have any sources handy right now, but I recall seeing some research which found that relatively small amounts of exercise, such as a brisk 10 minute walk, have disproportionate effect on...

                    Walking to and from a bus stop might burn a couple hundred calories. You can undo that in 10 seconds of eating.

                    I don't have any sources handy right now, but I recall seeing some research which found that relatively small amounts of exercise, such as a brisk 10 minute walk, have disproportionate effect on your aerobic, cardiovascular and metabolic health, which goes far beyond the simple quantity of calories consumed while walking.

                    However, I think you are probably correct that the availability of healthy food is another significant factor.

                    5 votes
                    1. [2]
                      teaearlgraycold
                      Link Parent
                      Well yeah - 10 minutes of light cardio per day is infinitely better than 0. It won’t change your weight without other changes. You’ll probably just eat a tiny bit extra.

                      Well yeah - 10 minutes of light cardio per day is infinitely better than 0. It won’t change your weight without other changes. You’ll probably just eat a tiny bit extra.

                      1. wervenyt
                        Link Parent
                        That baseline of exercise could be the catalyst for upstream changes in neurology, leading to better executive function or even an unconscious reduction in the mindless grazing so many struggle...

                        That baseline of exercise could be the catalyst for upstream changes in neurology, leading to better executive function or even an unconscious reduction in the mindless grazing so many struggle with. The science isn't there, but we have plenty of evidence that even low-intensity physical activity has a big impact on mood.

                        8 votes
  4. petrichor
    Link
    It's important to note that this is looking at people who already have heart disease or other conditions: not being overweight or obese is incredibly important to prevent these in the first place....

    It's important to note that this is looking at people who already have heart disease or other conditions: not being overweight or obese is incredibly important to prevent these in the first place. Still perplexing regardless - maybe being overweight gives the body more resources to fight off its (mostly self-inflicted, although burns and pneumonia are on there) problems?

    10 votes
  5. AshySlashy
    Link
    Semi anecdotal, but I was doing college course on data science several years back and found the same baffling correlation when processing a mortality dataset. Overweight and obese people had lower...

    Semi anecdotal, but I was doing college course on data science several years back and found the same baffling correlation when processing a mortality dataset. Overweight and obese people had lower all cause mortality than the rest of the population no matter how many confounding variables I tried to account for. I thought for sure something must have been wrong with my data or methods, but maybe I was onto something.

    8 votes