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‘Obesity Paradox’ for Diabetics is a Myth

Update Date: Jan 16, 2014 02:41 PM EST

The 'obesity paradox' is the concept that overweight diabetics are considered healthier than obese diabetics. Despite this controversial belief, a new study is reporting that based on evidence, the 'obesity paradox' appears to be a myth. The researches found no significant differences in survival rates between overweight and obese diabetics. However, they reported that normal weight diabetics had the lowest risks of death.

The researchers examined 11,427 diabetic participants that were made up of female nurses and male health professionals. The participants were enrolled in two long-running health studies and were sectioned into weight groups based on body mass index (BMI), which takes into account weight in relation to height. When the researchers analyzed the follow-up data 15-years later, they found that 3,083 people had died. The researchers then looked at the relationship between BMIs and risk of death.

The researchers reported that the lowest risk of death was in diabetic people who had BMIs between 22.5 and 25, which are considered normal. The team found that diabetics who had BMIs at both extremes had the greatest risk of death. However, the researchers did not find any differences in the risk of dying between overweight people and slightly obese people.

"We didn't see this protective effect at all," said one study leader, Diedre Tobias of the Harvard School of Public Health reported by Medical Xpress. "The lowest risk was seen in the normal-weight category."

Aside from weight, the researchers found that diabetics who were smokers had higher death rates. For diabetics under 65-years-old, risk of death increased with BMI. The researchers concluded that diabetics should focus on maintaining a healthy weight.

"It's a very convincing study," commented expert, Dr. Patrick Remington, associate dean for public health at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who was not a part of the research.

The study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the American Diabetes Association, was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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