My mother always fussed at her oldest sister. Aunt Grace was big-boned, with the kind of padding that made her lap a safe haven for a child. Mother worried she would die early if she did not slim down. Aunt Grace died at 84, Mother at 75.
Though both women inherited the same genes, they did not lead the same lives. Aunt Grace was more physically active, ate more fruits and vegetables and experienced far less stress than her slim younger sister. New studies shed some light on why one lived so much longer than the other.
The research challenges conventional wisdom that obese automatically equals unhealthy. Both studies used the Edmonton Obesity Staging System (EOSS) to rank obesity as a series of stages rather than one number. Higher stages mean higher risks.
CBC News reports “The new scale includes five stages of obesity based on traditional measurements such as body mass index and waist-to-hip ratios, as well as clinical measurements of medical conditions tied to obesity, such as Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.”
What scientists discovered, in studies published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal and in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, was a more nuanced picture of the consequences of obesity. Physicians using the scoring system will find it easier to prescribe appropriate treatments. Patients with higher EOSS scores, for example, are more likely candidates for bariatric surgery. Those with low scores are unlikely to need it.
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