Filed Under: Big Fat Lies

Experts’ Take On The Obesity-Mortality Myth

A team of researchers from the CDC and the NIH recently published a bombshell study in JAMA attributing less than 26,000 deaths to obesity and overweight. The study stands in stark comparison to the CDC’s original estimate, which was fifteen times higher.

Experts across the country and around the world have openly questioned the link between obesity and mortality. Here is a selection of quotes from experts in the field:

“The major problem with this ‘obesity kills’ statistic is the lack of compelling evidence to substantiate it.”
Harvard Health Policy Review, 2003

“The data linking overweight and death, as well as the data showing the beneficial effects of weight loss, are limited, fragmentary, and often ambiguous. Most of the evidence is either indirect or derived from observational epidemiologic studies, many of which have serious methodologic flaws.”
–Editorial, The New England Journal of Medicine, 1998

“Studies concluding that obesity is harmful are embraced, despite potential flaws. Studies concluding that obesity is [not harmful] are rejected or simply ignored, regardless of merit.”
Journal of Obesity and Weight Regulation, 1987

“Someone needs to say the emperor has no clothes … [the conventional wisdom on obesity] is cultural bias, not science.”
–C. Wayne Callaway, M.D., Professor of Medicine, George Washington University, 1998

“These studies suggest that health problems frequently blamed on excess body weight are more likely caused by an unhealthy lifestyle rather than obesity itself.”
–Letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine, 1998

“Evidence that it is more dangerous to be thin than fat is either ignored or minimized in analyses that shape public policy toward weight loss … What evidence exists for an association between obesity and mortality or morbidity, is usually found not to apply to those with mild to moderate obesity.”
Clinical Psychology Review, 1991

“Of all our convictions about health, the belief that obesity itself is a killer has no rival when it comes to the gap between conventional wisdom and scientific evidence … [T]he heath risks of moderate obesity have been greatly overstated.”
–Glenn Gaesser, Ph.D., Professor of Exercise Physiology, University of Virginia, 1997

“The idea has been greatly oversold that the risk of dying prematurely of having a heart attack is directly related to relative body weight.”
–University of Minnesota Professor Emeritus Ancel Keys, W.O. Atwater Memorial Lecture, 1980.

“The establishment clings to the belief that weight causes disease and death just as people once insisted that the world was flat.”
–Dr. Susan Wooley, Professor Emerita, The University of Cincinnati, 1998

“The major studies of obesity and mortality fail to show that overall obesity leads to greater risk.”
–Reubin Andres, M.D., National Institutes of Health, 1980

“[M]ost epidemiological studies reveal that aside from the extremes, BMI is not that strong a predictor of death rates.”
QUEST, The official journal of the National Association for Kinesiology and Physical Education in Higher Education, 2004

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