Thursday, November 15, 2007

The obesity paradox, redux

In the category of why-is-this-so-hard-to-believe, Reuters reports that the effects of the so-called "obesity paradox" have prevailed in yet another study, this one on people with heart disease and high blood pressure.

The results substantiate earlier results showing the now-famous J-shaped mortality curve described by Dr. Katherine Flegal, wherein overall mortality rates are highest at either end of the spectrum and lowest in those in the "overweight" category. What's significant about this study is that it concentrated on people with heart disease--who are, if you listen to the media at all on this subject, in imminent danger of death if they carry even a couple of "extra" pounds.

This study of 22,576 people with high blood pressure and coronary artery disease found that

compared to normal-weight subjects with a BMI between 20 and 25, the risk of death, heart attack, or stroke was lower in subjects who were overweight (BMI 25 to 30), and in those with class I obesity (BMI 30 to 35) and class II-III obesity (BMI 35 or greater).

The article is accompanied by--what else?--the obligatory shot of headless fatties. And its wrap-up leaves something to be desired:

In a commentary, Dr. Carl J. Lavie and colleagues of the Ochsner Medical Center, New Orleans caution that while improved outcomes appear to be consistently associated with increased BMI, "one should not conclude that weight reduction is detrimental in overweight populations."

I'm not sure what we should be concluding then, except that the media coverage on this subject is, as usual, beyond biased.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

And the next Leaden Fork award goes to . . .

Dr. John Tickell, billed as an "Australian expert in nutrition and weight control," for his passionate campaign to charge obese airline passengers extra for being fat.

"Airlines are buying fuel, and if you are carrying a heavy weight on a plane you have to pay more for it. But instead, the rest of the public is paying for it. It's got to be restricted," said Tickell.

Uh-oh. Do I hear the sound of thin entitlement?

Tickell went on to greater heights of hyperbole with this comment: "Flight attendants in the US have to go down the aisle handing extension seatbelts out like headphones."

Maybe he'd prefer that fat people didn't wear seat belts on a plane. Maybe some bruises and broken bones in case of turbulence would open our eyes to the fact that , golly, we're fat!

Turns out Tickell is ticked off because he was once charged $100 to check golf clubs, while a passenger who "outweighed him and his golf clubs" didn't have to pay extra.

Maybe security should just require surgical removal of excess fat at the checkpoint. That would solve the problem, right, Dr. Tickell?