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Today's bit of good news

Seen elsewhere on my flist, passing it on.

Obesity Danger May Have Been Overstated (AP, by Carla K. Johnson). Excerpt:

Being overweight is nowhere near as big a killer as the government thought, ranking No. 7 instead of No. 2 among the nation's leading preventable causes of death, according to a startling new calculation from the CDC.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated Tuesday that packing on too many pounds accounts for 25,814 deaths a year in the United States.
...
It would fall behind car crashes and guns on the list of killers.


I'm very surprised (pleasantly so) that they admitted it. Of course, "the CDC is not going to use the brand-new figure of 25,814 in its public awareness campaigns and is not going to scale back its fight against obesity." (Because, I believe, that would take money away from the diet industry, who are used to having it.) But it's something.

Comments

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
leback
Apr. 20th, 2005 12:47 am (UTC)
What I want to know is, what is "preventable," and who decides what qualifies?
firecat
Apr. 20th, 2005 12:53 am (UTC)
"Preventable" is a political term in such cases. It applies to things like guns and smoking, but unsurprisingly I've never seen it applied to deaths that could have been prevented by giving a poor person health insurance or giving a living disability wage to someone who is unable to work full-time, yada yada.
eve_l_incarnata
Apr. 20th, 2005 04:06 pm (UTC)
I've never seen it applied to deaths that could have been prevented by giving a poor person health insurance or giving a living disability wage to someone who is unable to work full-time

It certainly won't as long as the current cartel runs the US.
pir_anha
Apr. 21st, 2005 06:57 am (UTC)
preventable
oh, nice. if i had a quotes file... :)
redbird
Apr. 20th, 2005 02:54 am (UTC)
Great. The people in charge of public health have just admitted, out loud, to a reporter, that they're not going to change their publicity just because they've been handed new facts that flatly contradict what they've been saying.

Of course, given the Shrub administration's attitude toward mere reality, I shouldn't be surprised.
firecat
Apr. 20th, 2005 04:06 am (UTC)
I'm hoping that they're saying that just to get the diet industry lobbyists off their backs (I wouldn't be surprised if the diet industry lobbyists have been pressuring them not to release the new numbers). But I guess we'll see.
redbird
Apr. 20th, 2005 12:13 pm (UTC)
It's not just this issue: whether or not they change their publicity on this, they've told everyone that we cannot believe the numbers they give out as the basis for their health advice, because the CDC won't change said numbers when it learns they're wrong.

Even if they do the correct, honest thing this time, the next time they say something people don't want to hear--whether on flu vaccines or HIV--someone is going to ask why we should believe them, since they've said they'll lie to the American people. That's a question that even telling the truth won't answer, if they get that reputation.
firecat
Apr. 20th, 2005 03:42 pm (UTC)
What I am especially interested in is what reporters do with this new information. They are on the front lines of the War Against Fat People and have been gleefully throwing around the "300,000 deaths a year due to fat" number for a while now. I'm curious whether they'll continue to use it.
aquaeri
Apr. 20th, 2005 05:35 am (UTC)
Being an unashamed bio- and medico-geek, I went to read the JAMA paper, of course. There's a very good reason they shouldn't use the 25,814 figure. It's totally absurd.

From their paper, relative risk of death:
BMI > 30: 111 909 excess deaths in 2000 (95% CI, 53 754 to 170 064)
BMI 25-30: –86 094 deaths in 2000 (95% CI, –161 223 to –10 966)
BMI > 25: 25 814 excess deaths in 2000 (95% CI, –86 284 to 137 913)
(basically achieved by addition of the two previous categories)
BMI < 18.5: 33 746 excess deaths in 2000 (95% CI, 15 726-51 766) (although most of these are people over 70 years old.)

In other words, they have actually shown that it is healthier to have a BMI in the 25-30 range than in the 18.5-25 range. They shouldn't be publicising a 25,814 excess death figure, they should be publicising something like a 25.814 ideal BMI. It'd make just as much sense.
aquaeri
Apr. 20th, 2005 05:43 am (UTC)
Oh, I believe that particular JAMA paper is free general access (let me know if not).

I lurrrrrrrrve the title in the context of their results:
Excess Deaths Associated With Underweight, Overweight, and Obesity

Anyone think they made up the title before they got their results?
sashajwolf
Apr. 20th, 2005 02:46 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this. I'm going to pass it on.
firecat
Apr. 20th, 2005 03:44 pm (UTC)
Yes, a mailing list I'm on has been discussing this. I'm going to blog it on showmethedata today.
pyrzqxgl
Apr. 20th, 2005 07:27 am (UTC)
The New York Times has an article on it too -- it's good to see it actually getting some attention.

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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