Challenging the Fat-Mortality Relationship (Nature)

Nature reports that more and more studies show that being overweight — despite the condition’s link to diabetes, heart disease and cancer — does not always shorten life, a phenomenon referred to as the “obesity paradox.” In fact, one of the more recent studies, “a meta-analysis” of 2.88 million people by Katherine Flegal, an epidemiologist at the National Center for Health Statistic, found that overweight people were 6% less likely to die than were those of normal weight over the same time period.

But this study has prompted backlash. Walter Willett, a leading Harvard nutrition and epidemiology researcher, commented, “This study is really a pile of rubbish, and no one should waste their time reading it.” Willett is worried that such conclusions could undermine policies to curb obesity rates and be misused by soft-drink and food lobbies to influence policy-makers.

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