Friday, August 14, 2009

The myth of unhealthy belly fat

Sandy from Junkfood Science reports on the latest study, virtually totally ignored by the media, that yet again challenges the orthodox "right message" about obesity.

Before continuing with the obesity paradox series, one of the most important null studies of the year deserves mention… especially since the media universally ignored it. As the body mass index (BMI) is finally being recognized as an uncredible measure of health or predictive of premature death, other measures of body fat are being promoted because everyone “knows” that fat is unhealthy.


It’s inconceivable to contemplate that our condemnation of our body fat and of fat people might be little more than vanity, profit and prejudices. That increasingly seems to be the case, though, when we stop to think about why we remain so intent on finding a reason to condemn fat even when the null studies are far stronger than any others.


One of the most popularized new measures is waist circumference or waist-to-hip ratio, as an indicator of belly fat. It’s based on the belief that there is good and bad body fat, and that visceral fat — the fat that accumulates inside the abdomen — is the unhealthy, dangerous fat.


As she observes, despite popular misunderstanding about the nature of science, science does not so much "prove" things as disprove them.


Anyone can concoct a "proof" of a favoured idea. Happens all the time. What sets genuine science apart from ideologies and superstitions is its ability to test favoured ideas and find them false.


She highlights two recent studies that found no increased risk of early death from being overweight, including for the now increasingly fashionable "belly fat" measure for being overweight.

Nor was there a net benefit of using BMI versus another measurement. The data also found that NONE of the 21 diseases popularly attributed to obesity — those “obesity-related” diseases, including: cardiovascular disease, cancers (colon cancer, breast cancer, esophageal cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, kidney cancer, or pancreatic cancer) and diabetes or kidney disease — are actually associated with excess deaths at any BMI category, including obese.

Posted via email from Garth's posterous


Anonymous said...

Here via Bolt.

Gotta watch Sandy, Garth. Not everything she says is sound by any means, and last I'd checked she had commenting and all forms of contact turned off so she doesn't have to see or show alternative opinions on her blog.

That's NOT scientific, and I think you know it.

Anonymous said...

Public comments at a publication are not a measure of the quality of the science. Ad hominum attacks are not the tools of scientists, either.

No reputable scientist or doctor would find fault with her science. The fact that JFS no longer chooses to give platforms to anonoymous posters and encourages readers to think for themselves, rather than wait for the consensus of comments, appears upsets those who can't and do.

Garth Godsman said...

Okay, that's twice now that somebody has left a comment about JFS, warning that it should be treated with caution, but without saying exactly why.

Not much of an argument I'd have to say.

And yes, her's is not the only blog that doesn't bother with comments. Something that I think is neither here nor there.