Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Weight loss may be bad for your health

weight loss
Did you really believe that being fat shortens your life? Then you should know that this is not true. The truth is that overweight and obesity shortens life in some persons but extends life in others. For instance, weight loss is bad in heart failure: The risk od dying within three years is 70 percent higher in patients with a body mass index of less than 23, compared to obese patients with a body mass index of 30 to 35. A Harvard study in more than seven thousand heart patients has come to this conclusion, but only in those patients not suffering from fluid overload which is a sign of worsening.

In sick people, weight loss is often a sign of worsening, thus the «protective effect» of weight is easy to understand. Not only in heart patients but also in people suffering from cancer. Also smokers often lose weight and smoking kills, thus all serious studies about weight loss and life expectancy are controlled for this effect.

But you have not to be sick to be an exception from the generally accepted rule. For instance, obese and fit middle-aged men live longer than lean men of the same age - see my earlier post: Fitness may be more important than weight loss.

Age seems to be the major factor when it comes to weight loss: In eighty-year-olds, overweights live longer than those of normal weight, and underweights live shorter. This is not a weak effect: The risk difference between over- and underweight has been found to be four- to fivefold in more than six hundred old Japanese.

What does not kill you makes you stronger

Medical studies obviously confirm this saying. Overweight may be a killer, as some studies indicate. But if you are still alive with sixty years of age, your fat may make you stronger, giving you more reserves in fighting the aging process.

Conflict of interest: I am middle-aged and of normal weight, my father is moderately overweight and still trying to lose weight, not believing what his son has found.

Photo credit: flickr.com/photos/wyldkyss/440095388/

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