February 2, 2010
Researchers looked at data taken over a decade among more than 9,200 Australian men and women aged 70-75 at the beginning of the study, who were assessed for their health and lifestyle as part of a study into healthy aging. The paper sheds light on the situation in Australia, which is ranked the third most obese country, behind the United States and the United Kingdom.
The study began in 1996 and recruited 4,677 men and 4,563 women. The participants were followed for 10 years or until their death, whichever was sooner, and factors such as lifestyle, demographics and health were measured. The research uncovered that mortality risk was lowest for participants with a BMI classified as overweight, with the risk of death reduced by 13 percent compared with normal weight participants. The benefits were only seen in the overweight category not in those people who are obese.
“Concerns have been raised about encouraging apparently overweight older people to lose weight and as such the objective of our study was to examine the major unresolved question of, ‘what level of BMI is associated with the lowest mortality risk in older people?’” said lead researcher Leon Flicker, of the University of Western Australia. “These results add evidence to the claims that The World Health Organization (WHO) BMI thresholds for overweight and obese are overly restrictive for older people. It may be timely to review the BMI classification for older adults.”
In those participants who died before the conclusion of the study, the researchers concluded that the type of disease which caused their death—for example heart disease or cancer—did not affect the level of protection being overweight had. To remove any risk of bias in participants with illnesses that caused them to lose weight, and also increased their risk of dying, the researchers contrasted subjects who were relatively healthy compared with those who had major chronic diseases or smoked and found no apparent differences in the BMI/mortality relationship.
While the same benefit in being overweight was true for men and women, being sedentary doubled the risk of death for women, whereas it only increased the risk by a quarter in men.
“Our study suggests that those people who survive to age 70 in reasonable health have a different set of risks and benefits associated with the amount of body fat to younger people, and these should be reflected in BMI guidelines,” concluded Flicker.
These individuals will be filling seats vacated by Hans Brand of B Flowers, Frans Wielemaker of Dole Fresh Fruit International, Colleen Kohlsaat of Levi Strauss Company, Suzy Friedman of Environmental Defense Fund, Ron Strochlic of the California Institute of Rural Studies, David Pimentel of Cornell University and John Kukoly of QAI-SAI Global.
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The letters focus on the likes of St. Johns wort, chamomile flower tincture, echinacea root 4:1 powdered extract and oils of peppermint leaf, ginger root and fennel seed, and are signed by the GAO’s managing director of forensic audits and investigations, Gregory D. Kutz.
AHPA said the GAO letters had been issued as recently as January 18. Each company had received a similar letter that requested information such as details of extraction method; evidence that the addressees’ specifically identified dietary supplement product was marketed in the US prior to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA); evidence that the identified product contains only dietary ingredients that have been present in the food supply as an article used for food in a form in which the food has not been chemically altered; and a copy of such documentation as has been provided to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) showing that there is a history of use or other evidence of safety, establishing that the dietary ingredient when used under the conditions recommended or suggested in the labeling of the dietary supplement will reasonably be expected to be safe.
The letters state that the GAO is investigating the area after a request from the Senate Select Committee on Aging. AHPA said it was looking into why such a request had been made by the Committee in the first place.
ABC Founder and Executive Director Mark Blumenthal said while many of the ingredients under review had been mandated as old dietary ingredients (ODIs), there was debate about newer extracts from the same plants—especially as the FDA was yet to issue guidance on the matter.
Such discrepancies may have motivated the GAO to move into an area that is typically the domain of the FDA. Blumenthal speculated about how such information may be used.
“There are some such as Congressman Henry Waxman who are vocal opponents of DSHEA and seeking to build a base of information that may be used to attack DSHEA,” he said in a statement, noting at least three ABC members that had contacted him with concerns about the letters. “The problem is that NDI is open and ambiguous.
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