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Landmark US Study on Healthy Fat People

News rang out from coast to coast here in the US - even making the front page of The Oregonian - that fat people can be healthy. (Kate Harding called in the Duh Truck.) The study comes from an Albert Einstein College of Medicine study led by researcher MaryFran Sowers and appeared in Monday's edition of Archives of Internal Medicine. From the AP piece:

A new study suggests that a surprising number of overweight people — about half — have normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels, while an equally startling number of trim people suffer from some of the ills associated with obesity.

Wait a minute - you mean that Fat People Diseases™ aren't limited to fat people? Get outta here!

Emphasis mine on this one:

In the study, about 51 percent of overweight adults, or roughly 36 million people nationwide, had mostly normal levels of blood pressure, cholesterol, blood fats called triglycerides and blood sugar. Almost one-third of obese adults, or nearly 20 million people, also were in this healthy range, meaning that none or only one of those measures was abnormal.

That's pretty amazing to the mainstream media I'm sure - and I trust that a lot of editions of this news ran with some "Oh, but it's not all right to be fat! Really this time you guys! Try WLS!" plug at the end. The AP article wasn't blatant with it, at least:

Study co-author Judith Wylie-Rosett emphasized that the study shouldn't send the message "that we don't need to worry about weight." That's because half of overweight people do face elevated risks for heart disease, explained Wylie-Rosett, a nutrition researcher at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.

...And yet that seems to mean we should be worried about health, not weight. Huh.

But, for those without elevated risks, losing weight "might be important only from a cosmetic perspective," she said.

In which case I'd argue, of course, that it's not important at all. From there the review of this study takes an interesting turn and suggests that waist size is the new black... er, BMI. BMI gets a mention here too, confirming that the measurement is indeed heading for the Retirement Home for Outmoded Measures, located just outside of Philadelphia.

Among people of healthy [sic] weight in the study, elevated blood pressure, cholesterol and other factors were more common for people with larger waists or potbellies.

This is backed up by a sentence that uses such strong and indisputable words as "could" and "can be" when talking about research on big bellies. (Read: jury's still out.) But that ties us back to the old chestnut, "correlation does not equal causation." This study showed that people who were "healthy" did have smaller waists across all weight groups but, again, CDNEC FTW.

So what can we take from this? It's another piece of scientific evidence we can cite, mention, shout, and share. It continues to prove our case and shows just how wrong - or in denial - people who are anti-fat really are.

Hear COFRA's Carrie on Oregon Public Radio! | For Crying Out Loud

paul August 13th, 2008 | Link | Gah! Thanks, Debra. I'll

Gah! Thanks, Debra. I'll update the post.

scruffmcgruff August 14th, 2008 | Link | Wait, I'm confused (and

Wait, I'm confused (and probably slow; it's reallllly late) but:

"Almost one-third of obese adults, or nearly 20 million people, also were in this healthy range, meaning that none or only one of those measures was abnormal."

Does that mean that two thirds of "obese" adults were not in the healthy range? Isn't that bad?

Or am I missing something?

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