“To lengthen thy life, lessen thy meals.” So observed Benjamin Franklin centuries ago. But Franklin didn’t comment on whether food intake restriction worked by keeping people thin or by making them thin. Indeed, it’s become a mantra of the “size acceptance” groups that there’s no scientific evidence that losing weight increases longevity. And it’s been true – until now.
Sure, a mass of published studies show that thinner is better in terms of overall health and longevity. This notwithstanding the occasional report, like Katherine Flegal’s in 2005, that encouraged the notorious food and beverage industry front group, Center for Consumer Freedom, to practically gloat itself to death with an obese $600,000 newspaper advertising blitz. Inevitably such studies fail to account for thinness from smoking or a wasting disease, are then corrected and like Flegal’s are refuted.
Likewise, the science is overwhelming that losing weight improves markers for premature death such as vascular inflammation, which causes heart disease and stroke. But finally we have two randomized, controlled studies showing a direct cause-and-effect relationship between reducing consumption and increasing lifespan.
Both followed patients of bariatric surgery, which means either reducing the size of the stomach or bypassing it altogether, and appeared in the August 23 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
Michael Fumento is a, journalist, and attorney specializing in science and health issues as well as author of BioEvolution: How Biotechnology is Changing Our World .
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