Harvard nanny Walter Willett is spitting mad about overweight-causes-death scare being debunked

“More and more studies show that being overweight does not always shorten life — but some public-health researchers would rather not talk about them.”

Nature reports:

The result seemed to counter decades of advice to avoid even modest weight gain, provoking coverage in most major news outlets — and a hostile backlash from some public-health experts. “This study is really a pile of rubbish, and no one should waste their time reading it,” said Walter Willett, a leading nutrition and epidemiology researcher at the Harvard school, in a radio interview. Willett later organized the Harvard symposium — where speakers lined up to critique Flegal’s study — to counteract that coverage and highlight what he and his colleagues saw as problems with the paper. “The Flegal paper was so flawed, so misleading and so confusing to so many people, we thought it really would be important to dig down more deeply,” Willett says.

Read more at Nature.com.

8 thoughts on “Harvard nanny Walter Willett is spitting mad about overweight-causes-death scare being debunked”

  1. This is a silly comment. The NHANES data are all perfectly public, so people are quite free to re-analyze it all they want. And the Flegal group did also reanalyze is themselves throwing out smokers etc and found that it didn’t make much difference and didn’t go in the direction Willett predicted. That paper was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology years ago. So you have to wonder where this commentator gets his or her information from, as it seems to be from a biased and ill-informed source.

  2. If Flegal’s work from NHANES is valid why are they so hesitant to release the data to the public to re-analyze it? or to reanalyze it themselves throwing out smokers and those with chronic disease? They owe it to the public to do this.

  3. That’s a load of BS. They are nurses, I think they know their weights and heights. They have even done validation studies to check this.

  4. Any analysis of the BMI-Mortality relationship that does not leave out smokers and sick people (either by leaving out the first couple years of follow-up so that those who already had cancer etc die) is faulty. Flegal has done the public a disservice with her paper. Willett could have expressed his dissatisfaction more eloquently but I understand his frustration: public health is what is being compromised. How ironic that she works for the CDC.

  5. I have been very impressed with Flegal’s past work, although I have not seen the recent study which upset Willett. She has taken the real data from the NHANES surveys and based her papers on that. Willett, by the way, looks like he has been learning from the climate “scientists” how to attack opponents and massage data. Using self-reported heights and weights is about as useful as asking people about their diet 10 years ago – oops, sorry that’s what they did in the Harvard nurses study wasn’t it….

  6. “Willett’s study relies on participants’ self-reported heights and weights, rather than objective measures.”

    there’s a smoking gun if I ever saw one.

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