By Greg O’Brien, Codfish Press
Pack it on for the winter; put another Butterball on the barbie. The government, no stranger to bloating, now says in a new study released in time for the holidays that 25 extra pounds of personal cargo doesn’t appear to raise your risk of dying of cancer or heart diseases. But appearances, as we know, can often be misleading, and in the case of additional body fat, hard on the eyes for a spouse or significant other.
Before you reach for the drumstick, understand that overweight people, the study concludes, have a higher chance of dying of diabetes and kidney disease, and those 30 pounds or more overweight have a greater risk of dying from other ailments. But the conclusions are clear, and “seem to vindicate Grandma’s claim that a few extra pounds won’t kill you,” the Associated Press reports.
“This is a very puzzling disconnect,” says Dr. JoAnn Manson, chief of preventive medicine at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “That is a conundrum.”
Far more of an enigma, we suspect. Results of the study, published in the Journal of American Medical Association, also conclude that overweight people were in some cases 40 percent less likely to die of such illnesses as emphysema, pneumonia and various infections, and that the those benefiting most from extra love handles were ages 25 to 59.
Publication of the study was followed by news reports about the food industry’s ongoing imbroglio with the government over labeling and the definition of what is “natural,” a classification that has been stretched like saltwater taffy. With all the dangerous additives, preservatives, sodium lactate and high-fructose corn syrup dumped into our food, “natural” these days ought to be limited in scope—perhaps only defined as Roy Hobbs of the New York Knights igniting the vapor lights with his legendary bat “Wonderboy.”
To government and industry types, however, the definition is far more obscure. “It’s worth bringing in the rabbis to analyze these situations because it’s complicated, it’s subtle. You can argue both sides. It has fine distinctions,” Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, states in the AP report.
Like weighty issues as food consumption, the definition of “natural” is sure to shift, as the food industry distends the definition and the government folds to pressure. “At stake,” notes the AP, “is the estimated $13 billion-a-year market for ‘natural’ foods and beverages.” So often in life what comes around, goes around. What’s harmful today may good tomorrow.
Let the buyer beware. Maybe someday smoking will be deemed acceptable, even therapeutic, for your health. Light up. May it be as good for you as it was once for me.