What is „obesity paradox”?

Obesity, which is pathological accumulation of body fat in an organism, is an affliction causing dysfunctions of proper body functioning and leads to development of additional diseases and chronic illnesses. According to present specialist knowledge, the prevalence of obesity influences also the mortality of a person. What if suddenly it turned out that obesity protects from premature death?

It seems impossible but it is not. Results of studies conducted at Feinberg’s School of Medicine at Northwestern University by a group of researchers under the direction of M. Carnethon show that overweight and obese people who also suffer from chronic diseases (e.g. diabetes, arterial hypertension) in a lot of cases live longer than people with regular body weight suffering from the same diseases. This phenomenon was called “obesity paradox”.

The obesity paradox was discovered accidentally. However, since it was a surprise for scientific environment it was checked by a few different groups of specialists. Researchers tried to understand how the obesity, which on its own is a big health risk, can protect against premature death. One of the researches, which aim was to explain the paradox, is a study conducted by Scientists from California University. Its results validate results obtained by M. Carnethon’s team. Mortality rate due to heart diseases is higher in slim people with regular body weight than in overweight and obese people.

Until now, it was not possible to determine without fail what is the cause of the obesity paradox. Scientists from California University claim that it can stem from increased power demand of the organism struggling with chronic disease. Obese people have bigger energy reserves than people with regular body weight or slim. That is why using energy reserves by those people is far easier than in slim ones. Other theory of the obesity paradox causes seeks background in genetics.

Written by: Sandra Kryska, Mateusz Grajek, Anna Rej

H. Brown, The obesity „paradox”. Thinner may mean sicker, New York Times News Service 16.06.2012 [dostęp on-line: 26.09.2012]
C. Freundenrich, How the Obesity Paradox Works, How Stuff Works [dostęp on-line: 26.09.2012]
S. von Haehling, O. Hartmann, S. D. Anker, Does obesity make it better or worse: insights into cardiovascular illnesses. European Heart Journal 2012.

Would you like to know more? Watch on MEDtube.net: Obesity Surgery – Laparoscopic Gastrectomy

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