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August 21, 2009
Obesity Shows Up in the Death Rate? Right?
Here's an interesting post at Chemiotics (a new addition to the blogroll): Something is Wrong With the Model
. . . The Center for Disease Control released new data for 2007 (based on 90% of all USA death certificiates) showing that mortality rates dropped again (by over 2%) to 760/100,000 population. It’s been dropping for the past 8 years, and viewed longer term is half of what it was 60 years ago. Interestingly death rates from heart disease dropped a staggering 5% and even cancer dropped 2%.
But the populace is fat and getting fatter. . .
The heart disease death rate is particularly interesting. One explanation, which we can't rule out, is that these improvements are due to other factors (which the post goes on to elaborate), and that the improvement would be even more impressive if everyone weren't packing on the pounds. Another possibility is that excess weight, up to a point, may not have as big an effect on mortality and morbidity as we've been thinking it does.
That's a real possibility, and it's been looked at in the context of these sorts of public heath figures. The current use of BMI, at the very least, doesn't seem to be that useful in that regard. Only the high end of the BMI envelope (>30) seems to show much of a meaningful health effect. Of course, there are other costs to being obese, but (up to a point) bad health may not be one of the major ones. As for what this means to the current health care proposals, you can go here for the arguing.
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