Elderly asthmatic patients with a body mass index above 25 survive better than the so-called normal-weights, and those with a body mass index below 22 have the highest risk. This finding of an Italian study on asthma in the elderly is one more example of the so-called obesity paradox: In contrast to the widely held belief about body fat, it shows a positive link to health in this special condition. Other known conditions are heart diseases and, in general, old age.
About two hundred asthmatics of at least age sixty-five and more than a thousand elderly suffering from other chronic diseases have been followed five years on average. Mortality was fifty percent higher with asthma than with other chronic diseases. In asthma, but not in other diseases, the mortality is linked to body mass index in an inverse fashion, that is, lowest mortality with highest body masses and vice versa.
This study tells us nothing about possible causes. But it is one more case of refuting the still widely held negative belief about body fat and health.
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