NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


July 27, 2004

Some scholars and researchers are challenging the "ever-more-shrill" pronouncements on the "federally declared obesity epidemic," reports the Los Angeles Times.

Obesity skeptics say there are numerous studies showing that overweight and obese people live longer than the thin. For example:

  • A 1984 population study of Norwegians reported that people who were moderately overweight and even obese lived longer on average than the ideally lean.
  • A 2000 study of nearly 8,000 Europeans, reported that thin men (with a BMI of less than 18.5) had twice the rate of death as overweight men during the course of the study.
  • Some studies, including one of 9,228 middle-aged and elderly Israeli men, reported that those who intentionally lost weight died sooner than those who remained fat.

Critics also point to the announcement made in March by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that obesity was killing 400,000 Americans a year as an exaggeration of the risks associated with obesity. The CDC came up with its estimate by taking the death risk of young people who were obese and applying it to the whole population.

Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco, said the CDC's methodology made no sense because the death risk from obesity for young people was known to be high, and the risk for the elderly was tiny. The result was a highly inflated death estimate.

Source: Rosie Mestel, "Worth Its Weight in Debate," Los Angeles Times, July 23, 2004.


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