Obesity Doesn’t Help Diabetics Live Longer

Contrary to previous studies, being overweight or obese does not have health benefits for patients with type 2 diabetes.

A large-scale study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, refutes the studies that suggested that for people with type 2 diabetes being overweight or obese could lead to lower mortality.

It didn’t make sense to many who often called the findings the “obesity paradox.”

“These data dispel the notion that being overweight or obese confers survival advantage among diabetic patients,” said Harvard School of Public Health professor Frank Hu, senior author of the study. “Clearly, weight management is an important therapeutic strategy for overweight or obese individuals with type 2 diabetes.”

The authors said previous research that showed a lower risk of death by being obese and having type 2 diabetes was flawed for several reasons including: small sample sizes, measurement of body mass index years after diabetes diagnosis and failing to take into account smoking and diseases that often lead to weight loss, according to a news release from HSPH.

As a result, people who had higher BMIs had “artificially improved survival rates,” said Deirdre Tobias, lead author of the paper.

“In most studies of BMI and mortality, ‘normal weight’ reference groups are comprised of not only those who are lean and healthy, but also smokers as well as people with existing or undiagnosed illnesses,” Tobias said. “This can skew the relationship between weight and mortality to make the normal weight group seem worse off than the overweight and obese groups.”

The Harvard researchers analyzed data from more than 8,900 women in the Brigham and Women’s Hospital-based Nurses’ Health Study and more than 2,450 men in the Heath Professionals Follow-Up Study with type 2 diabetes.

Source: Harvard School Public Health news release

+ Learn about losing weight through surgical weight loss.

+ Read about managing high blood sugar when you have type 2 diabetes.

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