ABA Journal


Law Professors

Law Prof Sees Profit Motive in Obesity Fight, Cites New Study on Mortality Risk

Jan 3, 2013, 01:46 pm CST


For most of history, carrying some extra weight around (especially for women) was super sexy because it meant you were healthy and able to bear children. Look at the Venus and other classic works of art.

While we defintiely have a problem with weight in our country, I agree that the BMI chart is a pretty strange way to categorize the health of an individual. It was originally designed simply to be a measure of how people were at the time (developed in Germany, I believe), and was never designed to become the be all and end all of weight management. Can being overweight be hazardous to your health? Absolutly. But so can being too skinny. And I thnk there are lots of healthy people who aren't in the perfect BMI range.

By RecentGrad on 2013 01 03, 2:15 pm CST

First of all, there's a difference between being a little overweight and being obese. The number in pounds differs with each person, but it's pretty easy to see visually. Yes, that BMI chart is bunk, but there is a weight problem in this country.

Now, I'd like to suggest that perhaps the study referenced in this article found a lower mortality rate among its obese subjects because they were doing less than their thinner counterparts.

By Distinction on 2013 01 03, 4:08 pm CST

So Campos likes big butts and he cannot lie, good for him. Why is he constantly cited on the ABAJournal? You'd think there were no other academics out there with anything to say. Anyone who has been to any place outside the U.S. (aside from Canada and the UK) immediately realizes how fat Americans tend to be.

By NoleLaw on 2013 01 03, 6:47 pm CST

"multibillion-dollar weight-loss industry"? This guy must be completely oblivious to the multibillion-dollar (dare I say trillion) high fructose corn syrup, processed foods and sugared drinks industry. As long as the processed foods industry continues to find "academics" and "scientists" to do their bidding, we'll only see Americans get complacent over the serious health risks posed by obesity.

By ReaganNYC on 2013 01 03, 8:27 pm CST

Is Campos fat? Does anyone know?

By Pushkin on 2013 01 03, 8:44 pm CST

Pushkin @ 5: I'd like to know if Campos is a wholly owned subsidiary of PepsiCo.

By BMF on 2013 01 04, 2:47 am CST

If we could drastically reduce the amount of highly refined carbohydrates (flour, sugar), high triglyceride food products (red meat), hydrogenated fats, high fructose corn syrup, and all the juice drinks and sodas consumed in the USA, we'd have less obesity and a healthier population. Just look at all the buy-one-get-one-free items in the chain stores that contain these ingredients. It all starts with increasing the incentives and personal accountability for maintaining good health!

By Smith on 2013 01 04, 6:07 pm CST

Hey, I resemble that remark!

By Howard on 2013 01 04, 6:49 pm CST

I agree with the other Smith. The real "multi-billion dollar industry" duping the American Public is our food industry, the toxins, the addictions to fat, processed foods and sugar and the proliferation of junk and unhealthy foods! Everyone should read and follow "Eat to Live" by Dr. Joel Furhman!

By Another Smith on 2013 01 04, 7:02 pm CST

I see a lot of the comments here are made by people who have clearly "drunk the cool aid" dont kid your selves folks. The average American does not weight much more now than 100 years ago. The change is all in perception and the idiot box in your living room. The media has sold you a bill of goods and you bought it. Then the pharmaceutical industry realized they could make bank because every one wanted to look like Twiggy and etc.

The medical industry fell in line because doctors no longer help people they push pills because the health insurance industry won't let them spend more than 30 seconds with each patient.

The government backs it all up because morons run the government.

You have beeb lied to for decades and you cannot even tell the truth from the lie anymore. Scientists are telling you that people who are "thin" dont live as long as people who arent and you argue with them. DUMB!

By Elspeth on 2013 01 04, 7:15 pm CST

@10 "The average American does not weight much more now than 100 years ago."

I disagree. Although I am willing to rethink my position if you show me where you are getting your information. The human body has gone through a period of devolution rather than evolution after the rise in agriculture. Just as #4 pointed out, the increase of high fructose corn syrup, processed foods, corn fed rather then grass fed animals ect...the human body has become fatter and shorter. There is no question that the food we put into our body today is killing us. The FDA is an absolute joke, just like other parts of the government. And there are various other culprits as well. Just take a look at the grocery stores. Most everything is processed with a longer shelf life. The organic section is tiny. And do I have to discuss Monsanto? But of course, there are so many high powered industries that make money off Americans being overweight and sick. It's a shame. Just look at the prevalence of cancer. We put so much money into finding a cure (which is a great thing) but a lot of the times we ignore looking into or figuring out the causes and I'm sure that's because so many industries would lose money if we did.

We are being lied to. Being twiggy thin or obese is not healthy. They key is being active and eating healthy....but another lie we are being told is what actually healthy for us and what's not.

Two documentaries I suggest are Food Inc, and Fat Head. I found Fat Head extremely informative and enlightening. If any of you have a Netflix subscription, I believe it streams instantly.

@ 9 I also disagree with your "addictions to fat" statement. I think carbs are a worse enemy of the human body. Watch Fat Head to see why. If you take a look at "low fat" or "non fat" products, the ingredients that are added to replace the fat are actually worse for you. And its the wheat and carb based industries and push these "no fat" or "low fat" notions onto us. And who do you think lobbied and paid scientists to come up with the food pyramid that says our diets should consist mostly of carbs? Humans weren't obese until massive consumption of carbs were introduced into our diets. But of course, it's almost impossible to escape carbs these days but they can serve a good purpose for our bodies. Everything in moderation is the key. And most importantly....EXERCISE!

But I am interested to read up on why this is more of an American problem.....go to Europe and you can probably count how many overweight people you see on two hands.

By HMMMM on 2013 01 04, 9:32 pm CST

Replying to 3 and 7, yes, ether are a lot of fat people arounbd, and, yes, everyone eating less high fructose corn syrup, etc., would result most likely in fewer fat people.

But the question before the court of this article's opinion is whether that would in turn result in lower death rates per 1000 at any or at a range of ages. Prof. Campos concludes THAT answer is no.

If you disagree then you should probably, as a lawyer, produce evidence.

By A Skeptic on 2013 01 04, 10:42 pm CST

We have a weigh loss center downstairs. Virtually every week an emergency car comes up and picks one of them weight losers.

I was not born in the U.S. When I first came to this country and went to a restaurant, my jaw dropped. In my home country, we do our laundry in what is a regular serving plate in a U.S. restaurant. Maybe stop selling and serving meals size of a swimming pool, then obesity problem will disappear by itself?

By Anna Gray on 2013 01 04, 11:24 pm CST

In the good old days before Lipitor, anyone who put on weight also got artery walls loaded with big yellow streaks and lumps of cholesterol. You wouldn't last too long because those fat-laden arteries would burst apart, causing a heart attack or stroke depending on where the burst artery was. Add smoking a pack or two of cigarettes daily to that mix, and people dropped like flies before age 65. It was our experience from these good old days that gave us our standard retirement age of 65, when nobody was expected to live much longer than that.

Technology is wonderful, but we never think much about its implications. Anyone who is now overweight is instantly prescribed a statin drug like Lipitor, as well as meds for the high blood pressure that usually accompanies our terrible but irresistable eating habits. With such effective medications, our bodies are no longer what they used to be since the dawn of time. We can weigh up to 400 pounds with arteries as clean as a whistle, so we no longer face the risk of an early death by heart attack or stroke. We can replace our knees and hips many times to bear our historically unprecedented weight while gratifying ourselves with the rich food that no longer kills us swiftly, as long as we take our miracle meds.

Anything that is now observed about our mortality risk must take into account the fact that our medications are game-changers that reshape our mortality risks. Those who are overweight in our country are typically on statins, and yes, it is perfectly possible that they are in better shape than those who are normal weight who may have other problems that are not accounted for in an incompletely analyzed study. I agree there are many interests who have their not insignificant income riding on how or if we fight obesity, and obscuring important facts like our use of miracle meds helps to serve those interests.

By sunforester on 2013 01 05, 8:31 pm CST

Thank you # 14 Sunforester.

By Tom Youngjohn on 2013 01 06, 2:48 am CST

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