• Briana Theroux

The Obesity Paradox



The obesity paradox is a fallacy born of poor research methodology.

It all started with Katherine Flegal from the CDC who published research showing that the lowest mortality rates were not seen in Americans at a normal body weight, but in those who were overweight. This has been used as justification by many that being overweight or obese. Being modestly obese was protective against dying compared to being at a normal body weight.

But check this; those observations don’t hold up to scrutiny.

First and foremost, when we look at controlled interventions that are better at identifying cause and effect relationships as opposed to Flegal's observational data, it is clear that weight loss when you are overweight or obese reduces the risk of premature death.

Second, the observations made in the obesity paradox research is explained by the simple fact that many diseases cause weight loss due to lower appetite and muscle wasting while also killing the individual. Someone who developed cancer because of their obesity may lose their appetite, eat fewer calories, and start losing muscle mass — all of which could put them in the normal-weight category when they eventually die.

When researchers control for this by looking at someone’s maximum achieved lifetime body weight, it is clear that being overweight or obese increases the risk of dying.

All of this is explained in detail with reference to the scientific literature in our Fat Loss Blueprint program, which you can purchase here.


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