Sunday, 12 April 2015

Disappointed Researchers suggest Findings are Underweight

It's instructive to see weight research from another angle. Far more cautious, detailed and careful in  reporting. Its pronouncements, conclusions, assessments and speculations are a cut above bariatrics *ouch*.

It's refreshing. The study in question features 2 million people and uses GP's patient records of dementia diagnosis matched with BMI.

It found those with a bmi of under 20 [underweight is usually under 18.5] in middle age, have the greatest number of dementia diagnosis of all weight categories. That progressively lowers as you go up in size, the lowest have a bmi of 40 +.

Looking at the headline, "Underweight people face significantly higher risk of dementia, study suggests." Most if not all the familiar things occur, this time with an unusual distance. Comparative or relative rather than absolute risk, for each individual. 

You can't help noticing again what a blunt tool weight is as a way of assessing individual risk. Epidemiology is the start of science, not that itself, telling you what can look for, not necessarily what you're looking at.

What may be on your mind is the much touted previous insistence that fat people have the higher risk. That should tell you about the abuse of that term in this crusade. It continually uses theoretical risk collated from other theoretically heightened risk factors to produce its hypetastic endgame.

The use of research as thinspiration puts intolerable pressure on plain fact.

Authors responses should be noted by those usually snowed by @besity;
Prof Stuart Pocock, one of the authors, said: “Our results suggest that doctors, public health scientists, and policymakers need to rethink how to best identify who is at high risk of dementia. We also need to pay attention to the causes and public health consequences of the link between underweight and increased dementia risk which our research has established. 
The latter highlighted is especially telling, why not causes and treatments/cures? Public health consequences are fine, but that particular omission smacks of a pre-text to interfere in other people's lives. I hope that isn't the case. It does say this is an avenue for research, but what kind though?

When a frame is established, others can be framed by it. Precedent is used to legitimize.

On a lighter note, hur, hur, we're helpfully told this doesn't mean being fat is okay-we may not live long enough to avoid dementia given other risks. In addition, we're given an anti-dote to the logical fallacies we're usually expected to pretend aren't.

Some things you never hear- From lead author Dr Nawab Qizilbash;
We haven’t been able to find an explanation......We are left with this finding which overshadows all the previous studies put together. The question is whether there is another explanation for it. In epidemiology, you are always left with the question of whether there is another factor.

Usually that spot's filled with eat less, do more, healthy lifestyles blah, blah, blah.  Can you notice how stupid that makes them sound? In this they actually sound like they're thinking.
Dr Simon Ridley, from Alzheimer’s Research UK, said further work is needed. “This study doesn’t tell us that being underweight causes dementia, or that being overweight will prevent the condition,” he said.
The comments too are worth reading for the number of critiques of the same faulty logic usually advanced when the subject is fat. You'll see those same criticisms dismissed when we resume normal programming......

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