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A new gut check with being overweight

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COFFEE WITH KEITH

As you sit there and chew on some of that sugar-filled, fattening Halloween candy gathered last night or left over from your own trick-or-treat handout stash, let me tell you that finally there’s a study that proves my big gut may not be such a bad thing.

Well, not really, but read on …

A study released in October says there could be a surprising consequence to losing weight later in life.

We all know being overweight and especially obese is linked to many health problems, and losing weight and staying in shape often is the best way to avoid those medical woes.

But, according to a new study released by the British Medical Journal, officially known as The BMJ, one of the oldest and most trusted medical journals in the world, it may not be such a good thing to lose weight later in life.

Think that’s a punch in the gut?

Well …

The BMJ examined the link between changes in body weight and the risk of premature death and found that the association between being overweight and mortality weakens as we get older, particularly when it comes to heart disease. Ah, as the saying goes: “Be still my foolish heart!”

The BMJ states that losing weight in middle age or late adulthood may heighten – yes, that’s increase – the risk of premature death.

The study found that people who remained obese, as measured by body mass index, throughout their adult life had the highest risk of premature death. Weight gain from mid-20s into middle age also was associated with increased risk of mortality when compared to people who remained at normal weight throughout their life.

But … BUT … weight loss in middle and older age “was significantly related to increased mortality risk,” the study said.

Mortality risk.

Egad!

Now, I’ll be the first to tell you I’m not proud of my big stomach. I’ve been a big guy for as long as I can remember, and I think my mother told me I weighed about 68 pounds at birth.

And over the years I’ve put a lot of time and money into my belly.

It may be true that a have a tent maker as my tailor, and that fabric has to be measured by the yard instead of by the foot for me.

But it’s also definitely true that I’m not alone.

The study stated obesity is major public health problem in the United States and globally. In the U.S., 38 percent of women and 36 percent of men were clinically obese in 2016, up from 14 and 11 percent, respectively, in 1975.

Of course, An Pan, the study’s author and a professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Tongji Medical College in Wuhan, China, said the first message is to try not to gain weight when you’re young.

Yeah, OK. Too late.

And he also said that in old age we should focus on maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Hey, I’ve been walking our dog almost every day for months, I push mow my grass and do other kinds of walking. And, many of you may not believe that I have not had a cookie – any kind of cookie – for about 14 years.

That really is true.

Why?

All those years ago, Nancy and I went on a serious diet and we lost quite a bit of weight. Among other things, I gave up cookies, and when we eased off the diet, I decided to give up cookies forever.

The theory behind it back then was because cookies were my favorite sweet – I mean I could sit down and eat an entire package of Oreos or Chips Ahoy in one sitting – if I could stave them off maybe I could keep other desserts from entering my mouth – at least to some extent.

Yeah, well. All one has to do is look at me.

I do still continue to tell folks I watch my waistline – and it’s getting easier to see all the time. And, I really do know quite a few people who eat more than I do and look a lot better. …

Back to the study. …

It found that people who remained overweight, but not obese, throughout their adult life had little or no association with an increased risk of premature death.

“Weight is a secondary consideration,” Pan said.

OK, OK … I am obese. I admit it. But at least I’m not obtuse, even when it comes to my weight.

For background, the study looked at 36,052 people age 40 and older based on data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey – a nationally representative annual survey that includes interviews, physical examinations and blood samples, to gauge the health of U.S. citizens.

Participants’ weight was measured as part of the study, and they were asked to share their weight from 10 years earlier and at age 25. Deaths from any cause, and specifically from heart diseases, were recorded for an average of 12 years, during which time there were 10,500 deaths.

The study did not find any significant link between various weight change patterns and deaths from cancer.

Previous research has linked a high BMI in adulthood with a higher risk of premature death, but much less is known about the role of changing body weight over time. Pan said more research is needed to unravel the reasons for the link between changes in body weight and mortality, and the long-term health consequences of weight loss.

So until that additional research is done, I’ll pass the time with ice cream, pie, cake and other goodies, including that Halloween candy.

Just no cookies. I mean, you have to draw the line somewhere.

As always, thanks for reading.