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U.S. Life Expectancy Increases (as usual)

From the Associated Press, via Yahoo News: US life expectancy surpasses 78, a new record.

This is in spite of the fact that, according to the Centers for Disease Control, 34% of Americans are classified as overweight and an additional 34% are classified as obese. And it's a horrible, scary, deadly EPIDEMIC - an epidemic that is now affecting 68% of us. Why are we not dying earlier? Where, I ask, are the piles of dead fat people?

Despite decades of hand wringing over how increasing rates of overweight and obesity are going to decrease life expectancy in the U.S., life expectancy keeps stubbornly increasing.

Is it because fat people are benefitting from advances in medicine? If we are, it's being mitigated by a lot a societal forces that would tend to damage our health.

Fat Americans are charged more for or refused health insurance. Medical professionals tend to want to treat our body size rather than caring for our health. We are more likely than average to be poor and/or members of ethnic minorities that are discriminated against. We, as fat people, are discriminated against. Large numbers of us continue to subject ourselves to unhealthy and ineffective weight loss methods. Given this, it's a miracle that as a group, we aren't causing the national life expectancy to decrease.

Aren't we fat people wonderfully resilient?

Oh! And the same thing is happening in the U.K.

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Meowzer March 18th, 2011 | Link | It is not just advancements

It is not just advancements in treatment administered after onset of heart disease, cancer, etc. Those do help a lot. But the fact is that people are getting advanced stage cancers and heart disease at far later ages, and fat is protective when they do occur. It used to be very common for people to get their first heart attack and die in front of the TV in their 50s; now that almost never happens. Weirdly, I think aspirin, of all things, might be a factor; people used to take it only for pain, now it's common to take it on a daily basis to prevent clotting. Powerful stuff.

richie79's picture
richie79
March 18th, 2011 | Link | The British media have,

The British media have, unsurprisingly, completely downplayed the 'good news' element of the story to focus on the 'despite rising obesity' aspect - a BBC News item this morning was set against a montage of headless fatties and close-ups of people eating. I left a comment on the website version highlighting how several studies have found that those in the 'overweight' and lower 'obese' categories live longest, that significant association between BMI and mortality is observed predominantly at the extremes of the spectrum, and that were the sort of crude corellations so favoured by the fat panic industry applied to life expectancy data it would be equally possible to argue that rising obesity was DRIVING concurrent increases in longevity. Of course, we all know that the relationship is infinitely more complex than that, but that doesn't stop 'experts' drawing similarly simplistic associations between rising BMI and things like screen time and soda consumption.

"What is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right" - Albert Einstein

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