"I feel like the researchers were trying to manipulate their data to match their conclusion."
Linda Bacon of the University of California at Davis said this about a 10-year study of more than half a million slightly overweight U.S. adults. The researchers, led by the National Cancer Institute,* concluded that, once these somewhat "gravity-challenged" Americans reached age 50, they were 20 to 40 percent more likely to die in their next decade than those in their cohort who maintained a healthy weight. A body mass index
(BMI) between 25 to 29 is considered overweight -- above a BMI of 30 you fall into the obese category, for which there's seemingly no question about associated health problems. However, Glenn Gaesser of the University of Virginia at Charlottesville joins critic of this recent study by saying "They are presenting the data in a way that paints overweight and obesity in the worst possible light."
Paul Ernsberger, associate professor of nutrition at Case Western University, piled on with this comment: "They're standing on their heads squinting at it backwards trying to make it fit."
The criticisms stem from the reliance by researchers on participant's recollections, which can be very unreliable. Critics also note the high number of people excluded from the final analysis, thus introducing possible bias. Furthermore, previous studies, especially one by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, indicated a beneficial effect of being slightly overweight. In any case, this study provides some food for thought by the large numbers of us baby-boomers that fall into this category of being a bit bloated after all these years of good living in the USA.
*New Study Shows That Being Overweight at Middle Age Can Be Harmful