Monday March 20, 2023

'Being obese can be deadly'

New study of almost 18,000 participants also suggests that experts may be misinterpreting the body mass index

By Web Desk
February 28, 2023
An inch-tape wrapped around an avocado.— Unsplash
An inch-tape wrapped around an avocado.— Unsplash

Only a small number of studies have suggested that being somewhat overweight can cause early death, despite the fact that being overweight can increase the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. Nevertheless, a recent study that found that obesity greatly raises a person's chance of death is changing everything. 

According to a CU Boulder researcher, obesity can increase one's risk of dying by anywhere between 22% and an astounding 91%.

The new study of almost 18,000 participants also suggests that experts may be misinterpreting the body mass index (BMI). This widely used indicator of weight and fitness, according to the study's author, can cause scientific bias and give an inaccurate impression of someone's health. One in six US deaths, according to the latest study, is related to being overweight or obese.

“Existing studies have likely underestimated the mortality consequences of living in a country where cheap, unhealthy food has grown increasingly accessible, and sedentary lifestyles have become the norm,” said study author Ryan Masters, an associate professor of sociology at CU Boulder, in a university release.

“This study and others are beginning to expose the true toll of this public health crisis.”

When it comes to researching weight and longevity, Masters claims that there is now an "obesity conundrum." The "overweight" category, defined as people with a BMI of 25 to 30, has the lowest mortality rate, according to the U-shaped curve. According to earlier research, those who are "fat" (BMI 30-35) have little to no higher chance of passing away than those who are "healthy" (18.5–25).

“The conventional wisdom is that elevated BMI generally does not raise mortality risk until you get to very high levels, and that there are actually some survival benefits to being overweight,” Study Find quoted Masters. “I have been suspicious of these claims.”

BMI is a measurement that is determined only by comparing weight and height. It doesn't take into account the many body types that people possess, such as a shorter guy or woman who is very muscular and fit and weighs more.

Masters cited Tom Cruise as an example, adding that he had been 201 pounds at the height of 5ft 7in.

Masters looked at data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 1988 to 2015 for this new study on the relationship between weight and health. Nearly 18,000 participants were involved in this study, of whom 4,468 died.

In the last ten years, one in five people who were in the "healthy" weight category had been overweight or obese. The findings indicate that this group of participants in particular had a substantially worse health profile than those whose weight stayed constant throughout the trial.

Fascinating findings also indicate that chronically being overweight increases the risk of disorders that result in rapid weight loss. Hence, according to Masters, it can distort scientific studies if researchers use BMI data from this period.

“I would argue that we have been artificially inflating the mortality risk in the low-BMI category by including those who had been high BMI and had just lost weight recently,” the researcher says.

Likewise, the BMIs of 37% of participants who were overweight and 60% of those who were obese were lower than they were ten years before. Even those who had recently put on weight still had higher health profiles overall. According to Masters, this demonstrates that chronic obesity is considerably worse for health than a quick increase brought on by overeating. He believes earlier research misrepresented the safety of obesity by adding persons who had a lifetime of low-BMI weight in the high-BMI category.