Interesting research that went largely ignored by the media.
Sandy at Junkfood Science begins a four part series looking at recently published research that challenges the fashionable notions about fat and obesity.
In a nutshell, the research found that amongst its study group, it was men of so-called "normal" weight that had higher mortality rates.
Researchers, led by Dr. Paul McAuley with the Department of Human Performance and Sport Sciences at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina, set to test the hypothesis that high cardiovascular fitness and high BMI were associated with a lower risk for death among healthy older men. As they noted, most studies, and the strongest ones, point to an inverse relationship between BMI among mature adults and mortality, with obesity having a protective role. Obesity’s survival advantage among patients with a wide range of diseases and health problems has also been especially well documented in the medical literature. Could being fat be associated with lower risk for premature death among healthy adults, and is fitness an independent risk factor?
Given the hysterical moralising about fat and obesity that we are subjected to these days, the findings may surprise you:
Among 981 healthy older men, 208 died during 6.9 years of follow-up. Compared to the reference ideal of a “healthy” BMI (20-24.9), men who were overweight were associated with a 34% lower risk for all-cause mortality, while the obese men (regardless of the degree of obesity) were associated with a 44% lower risk. In contrast, men with BMIs under 20 had more than a two-fold higher risk for premature death. When cardiovascular fitness was controlled for (as measured by MET = 3.5 mL/kg/min oxygen uptake on exercise tests), the slim men with BMIs below 20 were associated with an even higher 2.5 fold higher risk for premature death. Meanwhile, the most obese men had the lowest risk for all-cause mortality of all, at less than half (HR= 0.44) the “normal” weight men. As the authors noted, none of these correlations were significant. However, they do help to dispell popular beliefs about the deadliness of being fat as we age.
You can read the full post here.