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Getting old and fat ~ no problem!

Growing old and fat ~ no problem

In today’s obesocentric (a new word I’ve coined) world, there are certain things that are given. These are the immutable facts about obesity. One of them is that the link between obesity, as measured by Body Mass Index (BMI = kg/m2), is U shaped. Over the range corresponding to desirable weight (BMI =20 to 24.99), there is no relationship between BMI and mortality or morbidity. Below 20, there is a rise in the risk of mortality as one gets skinnier. Above 24.99, mortality rises as BMI increases and it soars when obesity exceeds 30. No matter where you look, this is a given. It’s on the WHO website. It’s in your pharmacy window. It’s in schools, in textbooks and its like the boiling point of water, a given, never to be challenged.
Recently, in writing my new book on obesity, I re-discovered a set of data that was 30 years old. The data were published in a Working Party Report of the Royal College of Physicians of London in 1983[1]. It looked at the assoc…

Fats, facts and baloney

In the last year or so, we have seen a number of scientific papers reviewing sets of older scientific publications linking saturated fats to heart disease and calling for a reversal of prevailing wisdom that a change in the composition of dietary fats (less saturates and more unsaturates) would help reduce the public health burden of heart disease. The spin-doctors from the food industry have whipped up the hype and last summer the front cover of Time magazine headlined: “Eat butter. The scientists labeled fat the enemy. Why they were wrong”. Before I take at look at the detailed issues, I would make two important points. The first is that no matter how unpalatable a critical paper might be to the custodians of some aspect of conventional scientific wisdom, there is an absolute need for continued critical analysis of existing theories. As I have often argued, dissent is the oxygen of science. The second point I would make is that the advent of any one paper is never in itself sufficien…