What is the Obesity Paradox?
In short, it’s an observation in epidemiological studies that those with BMIs in the “obese category” actually have a lower risk of mortality from certain diseases, such as cardiovascular disease or cancer. Since one would most likely think that obesity does not come with such a health benefit, it’s called a paradox. That is a simplified definition of the obesity paradox, but in one of my recent podcast episodes, my guest will explain the obesity paradox in detail and also explain why he believes it’s not an accurate observation.
In Episode 144 of Causes or Cures, I chat with Dr. Naveed Sattar, a clinician, researcher, and professor of metabolic medicine at the Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences at the University of Glasgow and a leading expert in diabetes and cardiovascular disease research. In the podcast, he will discuss the most accurate ways to measure body fat and why that matters and he will answer your question “What is the obesity paradox?” in great detail. Then, and most interesting to the listeners, he will explain how the obesity paradox unravels when using more accurate measures of body fat…particularly when it comes to a specific kind of heart failure. (If you are interested in this topic but don’t want to listen to the podcast, you can read his published study on it here.)
He also discusses how tackling chronic diseases without specifically focusing on and tackling excess weight leads to significantly more problems. (You can read his published study on that topic here.) And as we discuss what a good population-level and individual-level approach to obesity looks like, he shares his views and concerns on the new obesity medications that are trending in the news, particularly what we might see in the short-term and what to watch for in the long-term.
And for the record, when talking about obesity, I say “people with obesity.” Some people are really sensitive about the language used, and what I’ve noticed in my public health work is that it’s almost impossible to make everyone happy about the language we use when talking about obesity. At the end of the podcast, I share my views on this and hope you take a listen.
Finally, thank you to everyone who listens, shares and subscribes to the podcast. And thank you to everyone who hit the “support the show” link at the end of each episode to help me keep doing it and keep the podcast independent. It’s a side “passion” project, so my day job takes priority, but I still try to donate a few hours a day to the podcast so I can keep churning out episodes.
You can listen to What is the Obesity Paradox & the Problem with Excess Weight here.
Other Causes or Cures Episodes you can check out: