Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Cancer Institute checked death records for 37,000 adults, along with age and weight, and found that people who were overweight [had] no greater risk of dying from cancer or heart disease than those who were of normal weight...My first thought was that just measuring people's weight at death is a pretty poor way to measure the health of their lifestyle, as people who die of lingering cancer* tend to lose a lot of weight in their final months, and in a strange ironic twist, diet guru Robert Atkins** gained 60 pounds while in a accident-induced coma from which he never recovered. The weight at which one dies, unless one dies in an accident or from a heart attack, probably cannot be strictly correlated to the weight at which they lived.
Even more remarkable, the overweight group was less likely to die from a host of other conditions, including chronic respiratory disease, infections, and Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease. While being overweight left people at higher risk of death from diabetes and kidney disease, as a group, people in the overweight category outlived the obese, the underweight, and people at normal weight.
But I was most interested in the reaction of other scientists to the results of a study that, if it does not fly in the face of conventional wisdom, at least might force a shift in the 'acceptable' ranges. That is not to be, I guess:
"This research should be completely disregarded," says Walter Willett, MD, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.After all, what good are studies if they're going to give us results that contradict what science tells us?
* to pick a particularly uplifting example
** He of "Atkins Diet" fame