A new US study published in the 'Journal of Obesity' has claimed it is 'a myth' that overweight and obese people are more susceptible to Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.
The study analysed the relationship between body mass index (BMI), current health, age and gender. Survey data were available for about 18,000 adults whose health was assessed by looking at how many prescription medications they took at the time.
Obese experience 'no adverse health effects'
It concluded that overweight and obese people experience no adverse health effects until they turn 40, and that between the ages of 25 and 70 there is little difference in the health of normal compared with overweight people.
"Our findings show being overweight is no different from being what we believe is a healthy weight and this is across a person’s entire lifespan," said Brant Jarrett, lead author of the study.
Experts voice strong criticism to research
The story was published in the UK media but has drawn strong criticism from experts.
“This is an odd finding and conflicts with a wealth of other studies,” said Professor Philip James, President of the International Obesity Taskforce.
BMI is crude and arbitrary
“Body Mass Index is not a very accurate predictor of risk," Professor James continued. "It is a crude and arbitrary figure but many other studies show if someone is overweight or obese it will increase their risk of health problems later on in life."
Director of Research at Diabetes UK, Dr. Iain Frame, said: "This research was designed to look at the effects of the amount of medication as a measure of someone's current, but not future, health. The authors of the paper note that 'it is likely that an increased BMI requires time before it results in an increased medication load'.
Irresponsible to conclude obesity ills are a myth
"The dangers of obesity are well known and are backed up by a wealth of robust and peer-reviewed research. This evidence, used in our recent 'Active Fat' campaign (www.activefat.org.uk), shows that being overweight or obese dramatically increases your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
"It is somewhat irresponsible to conclude from this single piece of research that obesity ills are a myth. The research does not support that assumption and does not challenge our current understanding of the effects of being overweight or obese on our long term health."