Fat people die sooner? Not according to their data!
In this study, a joint effort of the AARP/ NIH.NOW, scientists attempted to "prove" that fat people die sooner. The news media loved it, of course.
But the proof was flimsy. None of the data, except one small section of people at the age of 50, show any significantly greater relative risk factor (more than 2.0) even in people with a BMI over 40.
BMI range <18.5 18.520.9 21.023.4 23.524.9 25.026.4 26.527.9 28.029.9 30.034.9 35.039.9 ≥40.0
No. of deaths 333 1513 5229 5768 6657 6021 6355 7488 2028 781
Age-standardized rate 3520 2430 1520 1320 1270 1310 1440 1680 2260 3210
Multivariate relative risk 1.97 1.54 1.14 1.00 0.95 0.95 1.00 1.10 1.35 1.83
The Relative Risk Factor (RR) is only .8 lower in the so called normal range than in the severely obese range. Also the RR in the "overweight" range was actually slightly lower than that in the normal range and that the RR in the underweight range is slightly higher than that of people with a BMI over 40. These findings are similar to those of the Cooper Institute studies and those of the CDC.
In the tiny subsection of data, of those over 50 years of age which did show a higher RR in people with a BMI over 40, the differential was 2.2 which is high enough to be significant but not super high.
An excerpt of the data follows:
<18.5 18.520.9 21.023.4 23.524.9 25.026.4 26.527.9 28.029.9 30.034.9 35.039.9 ≥40.0
No. of deaths 133 796 3567 3812 4113 3262 2728 2910 627 212
Age-adjusted relative risk 1.81 1.36 1.06 1.00 1.01 1.13 1.27 1.66 2.26 3.22
As often does the news media in these stories,the study was reported as finding that all fat people die sooner than slim people, ignoring that most of the data did not show that at all.
One other thing should be kept in mind about this study.This was self reported data. And self reported data is notoriously inaccurate.
It is important to read these studies because if we want to be healthy, dieting or calorie cutting or "losing weight" may not be the way to best achieve health. Getting on a healthy lifestyle of exercise and good food choices will make us healthier at ANY weight and that is what clinical studies have suggested. For example, see the HAES study, USC. One of the researchers on this study, Dr Linda Bacon, wrote a book which is very informative.