Science keeps changi…
Science keeps changing our view of the human body. Think being even a little overweight takes years off your life? Not necessarily so.

Packing on the pounds is not nearly as deadly as the government thought, according to a new calculation from the CDC that found people who are modestly overweight actually have a lower risk of death than those of normal weight.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that obesity accounts for 25,814 deaths a year in the United States. As recently as January, the CDC came up with an estimate 14 times higher: 365,000 deaths.

According to the new calculation, obesity ranks No. 7 instead of No. 2 among the nation’s leading preventable causes of death.

The new analysis found that obesity – being extremely overweight – is indisputably lethal. But like several recent smaller studies, it found that people who are modestly overweight have a lower risk of death than those of normal weight.

Biostatistician Mary Grace Kovar, a consultant for the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center in Washington, said “normal” may be set too low for today’s population. Also, Americans classified as overweight are eating better, exercising more and managing their blood pressure better than they used to, she said.

Granted, part of this is a change in behavior of overweight people. Still, why would someone managing their blood pressure be better off than someone who didn’t need to manage it? Aren’t folks who are not overweight eating better; is it just overweight people doing that? Behavioral changes don’t fully account for this, and that’s causing some controversy.

Last year, a CDC study listed the leading causes of preventable death in order as tobacco; poor diet and inactivity, leading to excess weight; alcohol; germs; toxins and pollutants; car crashes; guns; risky sexual behavior; and illicit drugs.

Using the new estimate, excess weight would drop behind car crashes and guns to seventh place – a ranking the CDC is unwilling to make official, underscoring the controversy inside the agency over how to calculate the health effects of obesity.

It goes against the grain of current ideas on health, not to mention what we’re being told by the government.

In recent years, the government has spent millions of dollars fighting obesity and publicizing the message that two out of three American adults are overweight or obese, and at higher risk for heart disease, arthritis and diabetes.

Time to rethink (and rewrite the commercials).

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