Monday, April 4, 2011

Longevity Linked To Fat?

Originally posted

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. life expectancy just hit another all-time high. Is this despite increasing weights of Americans, or because of it?

Data recently reviewed from 2009 found 36,547 fewer deaths than the year before. The newly estimated age of 78 years, 2 months for a baby born in 2009 compares to 75.4 years in 1990. In approximately 20 years, nearly 3 years were added to our lives!

The average American male gained 17.1 pounds and the average American female added 15.4 pounds in the last 20 years. That's 70 days of life added for every woman's extra pound of fat! Why didn't this make headlines??? If life expectancy was down, everyone would be blaming the "obesity crisis."

Fat bias is pervasive and acceptable. It skews interpretation of research, and interferes with dissemination of true methods for obtaining optimal health. When fat is always blamed for ill health, it obscures more important determinants, such as genetics and lifestyle.

News stories linked increased life expectancy to a range of causes, including less heart disease, fewer homicides, better medical treatment, increased vaccinations, and decreases in smoking. Nowhere was the correlation between Americans' expanding lives linked to their expanding weights.

Research continues to explore why increased weights are linked to increased life expectancy, since this is actually old news. Every population study around the world found longest survival rates in the overweight range, despite pervasive beliefs that thin is the healthiest range. In fact the NIH found 86,000 fewer deaths in the overweight range when compared to the normal weight range, and 33,000 more deaths in the thin range. Why didn't they revise weight recommendations after their own research confirmed this???

There is some evidence suggesting that fat is part of the immune system, and keeps us healthier. Of course fat provides stored energy reserves to aid survival in times of illness. Additionally, fat secretes estrogen, which can compensate for ovaries shutting down in menopause. Estrogen is typically considered the fountain of youth, so perhaps this contributes to increased life expectancy in women. Females will tend to die at 80.6 yrs, whereas males will kick the bucket at an average of 75.7 years.

I also believe there may be an evolutionary reason for this. One guy can impregnate many women, whereas most women give birth to only a few children. There is more of a need for women to hang around to nurture them, whereas if a bunch of men died off early, the species can survive with only a few studmuffins.

My advice is to live a relatively healthy lifestyle, enjoy life, and don’t worry about your weight. Becoming your personal best is a great goal, since not everyone was meant to be thin.