On the eve of the United States’ annual celebration of gluttony, some comforting news is trickling out of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: being overweight may not be as bad for your health as had previously been reported.
It’s become common wisdom that obesity kills about 400,000 Americans each year, almost as many tobacco. That figure is based on a study published by CDC researchers a few years ago. But an outcry by skeptical scientists and anti-tobacco advocates led to a re-analysis of the data. The verdict: CDC is admitting it made an error, and is working on developing a new way of estimating deaths from obesity. But by some independent estimates, CDC overstated those risks by a factor of 4.
Which means, of course, that being obese or overweight is still bad for your health. Even at the lower figure, obesity kills more than twice as many people each year as do automobile accidents. And obesity rates are still at all-time highs, and appear to be rising, especially among young people.
But at a minimum, the news will make me a little less apprehensive as I tuck into seconds tomorrow.