New Study Debunks Obesity Paradox: Extra Fat Increases The Risk For Death

Posted: Apr 5 2017, 6:34am CDT | by , Updated: Apr 5 2017, 6:38am CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
New Study Debunks Obesity Paradox: Extra Fat Increases the Risk for Death
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People who are obese or overweight do not have survival advantage

Being obese or overweight at any point in adulthood increases the risk of dying, a new study suggests. The findings of the new study contradict the so-called phenomenon “obesity paradox” that has confused both public and health officials over the years.

In United States, more than one third of adults are obese and being obese can put a person at a greater risk of dying prematurely due to health complications like heart disease and diabetes. However, data from many prior studies suggests that extra body fat can be protective and improve the survival in some cases. This has led to phenomenon known as obesity paradox. The new study, however, casts doubt on this popular idea.

For the study, researchers looked at the weight history of more than 225,000 participants who were followed for around 16 years. Participants were asked to fill up a questionnaire every two year to provide information about their body weight, diet, exercise, health problems and medications. Researchers also determined their maximum BMI during the 16-year long study and examined the deaths that occurred throughout that period.

Researchers found that obese and overweight people involved in the study were at higher risk for death from all causes, including heart disease, cancer and respiratory issues. The highest risk for death occurred among participants who were once obese or overweight but then shed a lot of weight.

Since many prior studies relied on a single measurement of body mass index (BMI) taken at baseline, they indicated that people who are overweight have a lower risk for death than those of normal.

To solve this problem, researchers looked at weight history over a long period of time and showed a different relation between obesity and risk for death.

“Having a history of being overweight or obese is linked to an increased risk for death from any cause,” said co-author Andrew Stokes, professor of global health at Boston University School of Public Health.

"Prior studies showing an association between overweight people and lower mortality carried the risk of reverse causation bias— in other words, the conditions leading to death are what might have caused the lower BMI, rather than the lower BMI causing death. By using maximum BMI in the context of an extended weight history, we were able to address the problem of reverse causation.”

The study debunks the so-called obesity paradox and reinforces the importance of adopting a healthy lifestyle to help promote good health.

Edward Yu, lead author of the study from Harvard said. “This is more reason why people should follow a healthy lifestyle and try to keep a normal weight.”

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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