Oversold

OVERSOLD….A reader writes to tell me I’ve become obsessed with Iraq. And he’s right. It seems appropriate this week, but he’s still right. So here’s Paul Campos on whether or not it’s OK to be overweight:

The story is simple: That it’s well-established scientific fact that being “overweight” — that is, having a body mass index figure of between 25 and 30 — is, in the words of Harvard professors Walter Willett and Meir Stampfer, “a major contributor to morbidity and mortality.”

….It’s difficult to exaggerate the extent to which the actual scientific evidence fails to support any of this. In fact, the current evidence suggests that what the Harvard crew is saying is not merely false, but closer to the precise opposite of the truth. For the most part, the so-called “overweight” BMI range doesn’t even correlate with overall increased health risk.

Basically, I accept Campos’s argument. Being moderately overweight, in and of itself, won’t kill you. The evidence on that score seems pretty compelling.

But I still have some questions. First: being overweight is associated with developing diabetes, isn’t it? And this is a very bad thing. Second: in 99% of the cases, being overweight is the result of eating too much fatty food. And fatty foods are bad for your serum cholesterol level and likely to increase the risk of a heart attack. It’s possible to have a high BMI even though your diet is fine, but let’s face it: that’s not usually the case. And third: being overweight stresses your back and your knees and your other joints and makes you less likely to exercise. And lack of exercise really is damaging to your health.

Now, I’m no expert in this stuff, and I might be off base here. And none of it is an excuse for medical researchers to misstate the epidemiological research on weight. Still, saying there’s no increased health risk at all to being overweight is a stretch, isn’t it? Anybody want to weigh in on this?