Fat can be healthy, so don’t tell me you’re dieting for health reasons

by ProvocativeTrash on April 15, 2015 - 3:28pm

In her article “Fat can be healthy, so don’t tell me you’re dieting for health reasons”, published in The Guardian,  Bethany Rutter (pictured below) discusses a study that has “shown” that overweight (BMI >25) and mildly obese (BMI >30) people tend to live longer than “thin” people (BMI 20-25). Because Bethany cannot be possibly biased considering her weight situation, she immediately resorts to using this study as the “holy grail” of definitive health standards (because meta analyses are useless in medical science...right?).  She goes on to mention that “thin privilege is rampant” and that diets are a “culturally constructed myth” related to the “patriarchy and oppressive beauty standards”. She proposes, indirectly albeit, that the findings within this ONE SINGLE STUDY could lead to the “dethronement of BMI as the definitive measure of bodies, weight and health”.

Using this non-biased study, she begins praising  the Health at Every Size movement, which celebrates that health supposedly does not depend on weight. In the end of the article, she mentions that she herself is a fat activist, which of course must mean that her article’s conclusions mustn't be partisan.

That’s enough sarcasm for one news summary, where are the actual facts and flaws of this study Ms. Rutter speaks of? Well the study, concludes that ”relative to normal weight, both obesity (all grades) and grades 2 and 3 obesity were associated with significantly higher all-cause mortality.” while “grade 1 obesity overall was not associated with higher mortality, and overweight was associated with significantly lower all-cause mortality.”

To begin, the study fails to take into account morbidity (ie.quality of life) and body fat; BMI is not a perfect indicator, as it is relatively easy for a man to surpass a BMI of 25 with sufficient muscle mass. Additionally, all the data considered was taken from other medical studies that had different purposes, so most of the data was abstract to begin with. Additionally, the study makes no reference whatsoever for the mortality rate for those of normal BMI--data that was compared the the mortality of those of higher BMI. Assuming that the number used were from a census or another source would mean that this study doesn’t really give us much valuable information.