The false generalizations about obesity


Surging healthcare costs in developed countries and increasing numbers of hefty people are happenstance – not evidence that both phenomena are strongly connected. Of course we always reckoned that some thin people can develop heart disease and some fat people don’t. But that millions defy the stereotypes is something which runs against everything the media have been reporting for some time. A new study from the university of Michigan has put that issue straight. It is the first national estimate of its kind:

In the study, about 51 percent of overweight adults, or roughly 36 million people nationwide, had mostly normal levels of blood pressure, cholesterol, blood fats called triglycerides and blood sugar. Almost one-third of obese adults, or nearly 20 million people, were also in this healthy range, meaning none or only one of those measures was abnormal. Yet about a fourth of adults in the recommended-weight range had unhealthy levels of at least two of these measures. That means some 16 million of them are at risk for heart problems.

But there is a cautionary tale to be observed because the Michigan scientists actually did not collect data of millions. They have only analyzed nationally representative government data involving 5,440 people age 20 and over and extrapolated their findings to the general population. Further studies of this kind are certainly necessary. However, this data should warn government bodies worldwide to abstain from hasty measures for tackling obesity with the expectation of curbing health expenditures.