Sunday, July 18, 2010

Being obese at 20 'doubles your risk of dying early'

The old "correlation is causality" fallacy again. Fatter people were probably in the main working class and social class is just about the most reliable health predictor there is. Almost every time it is examined, the poor have worse health -- perhaps in part because bad health keeps you poor!

Men who are obese by the age of 20 have double of the risk of dying prematurely, new research has found.

The findings are particularly worrying for Britain's youngsters who have been labeled the 'junk food generation', with a third of youngsters aged five to 13 already considered obese.

Scientists tracked more than 5,000 military conscripts starting at the age of 20 until up to the age of 80.

They found that at any given age, an obese man was twice as likely to die as a man who was not obese and that being overweight aged 20 had a constant effect on death up to 60 years later.

The study, presented at the International Congress on Obesity in Stockholm, also revealed that the chance of dying early increased by 10 per cent for each BMI point above the threshold for a healthy weight.

On average obese participants died eight years earlier than those of normal weight.

Study leader, Esther Zimmermann, of Copenhagen University Hospital, said: 'As the obesity epidemic is still progressing rapidly, especially among children and adolescents, it is important to find out if obesity in early adulthood has lifelong mortality effects.

'It is the first study with such a long follow-up time and thus the first study to investigate the lifelong effect."

In the study, the researchers compared mortality in a sample of 1,930 obese male military conscripts with that in a random sample of 3,601 non-obese male conscripts.

Body mass index (BMI) was measured at the average ages of 20, 35 and 46 years, and the researchers investigated that in relation to death in the next follow-up period.

A total of 1,191 men had died during the follow-up period of up to 60 years. The results were adjusted to eliminate any influence on the findings from year of birth, education and smoking.

'At age 70 years, 70 per cent of the men in the comparison group and half of those in the obese group were still alive and we estimated that from middle age, the obese were likely to die eight years earlier than those in the comparison group,' Dr Zimmermann said.

The researchers said it was unclear whether being obese at age 20 conferred the men's increased death risk or whether the lifelong effect was due to obesity often being a lifelong condition.

Either way the study showed that the majority of obese 20-year-olds struggled to lose weight as they got older.

Dr Zimmermann said: 'More than 70 per cent of the obese young men were still obese at the follow-up examinations, whereas only four per cent of the men in comparison group developed obesity during follow-up.'


Low vitamin D levels 'increases risk of Parkinson's'

The numbers in this study are crazy. The researchers admit that their population as a whole was vitamin D deficient yet when only 50 out of 3,173 people (1.6%) got Parkinson's over a 29 year period, they conclude that Parkinson's is caused by low levels of vitamin D! Words fail me beyond that point

A shortage of vitamin D can increase a person's risk of developing Parkinson's disease later in life, new research suggests. One 30-year study of 3,000 people revealed a three-fold higher risk of developing Parkinson's in those with low blood levels of vitamin D.

A separate investigation found that low vitamin D intake was associated with a 60 per cent greater chance of suffering seriously impaired mental faculties later in life.

Both studies, published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, add to growing evidence of the vitamin's importance to health.

Vitamin D is mainly generated by the action of sunlight on the skin. However, as people age their skin becomes less able to produce it. Research suggests that as well as strengthening bones, the vitamin also protects against cancers, heart disease and diabetes.

For the Parkinson's study, researchers in Finland recruited 3,173 men and women aged 50 to 79 who did not have the disease.

Enrollment took place from 1978 to 1980. Participants completed questionnaires and were interviewed about their socio-economic and health backgrounds. They also underwent examinations and provided blood samples for vitamin D analysis. Over a 29-year follow-up period, 50 of the group developed Parkinson's disease.

Those who had the lowest amounts of vitamin D were three times more likely to develop Parkinson's than those with the highest.
What is Parkinson's?

Parkinson's disease is a long-term neurological condition that affects around 120,000 people in the UK. It develops over time and affects the way the brain co-ordinates body movements, including walking, talking and writing. It is a more common condition in the over 50s. However, of the 10,000 people diagnosed each year around one in 20 is under the age of 40.

The authors, led by Dr Paul Knekt, from the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Helsinki, Finland, wrote: 'Despite the overall low vitamin D levels in the study population, a dose-response relationship was found.

'This study was carried out in Finland, an area with restricted sunlight exposure, and is thus based on a population with a continuously low vitamin D status.

'Accordingly, the mean serum vitamin D level in the present population was about 50 per cent of the suggested optimal level. Our findings are thus consistent with the hypothesis that chronic inadequacy of vitamin D is a risk factor for Parkinson's disease.'

Vitamin D is believed to protect the brain through antioxidant activity, regulating calcium levels, detoxification, and its effect on the immune system and nerves. 'In intervention trials focusing on the effects of vitamin D supplements, the incidence of Parkinson's disease merits follow up,' said the scientists.



Anonymous said...

OK, but do you think the entire Finnish study is to be ignored? What are your suggestions besides criticizing the "research??" of others? People are looking for hope/answers and your blog doesn't offer insights but only ridicule.

Anonymous said...