An American born at the beginning of the 20th Century was expected to live 47 years, on average. Today, we have an unprecedented life expectancy of 78 years — over three decades longer than our 1900s counterparts. Considering this, it’s no surprise that many experts in the scientific community are skeptical of nutrition zealot David Ludwig’s doomsday stance. Without any supporting evidence, he claims that obesity will reduce life spans of the current generation. In an editorial published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine, Ludwig asks the public to accept his dire warnings not on facts, but on faith:
Like global warming, the obesity epidemic is a looming crisis that requires action before all the scientific evidence is in. And as with climate change, some have questioned experts’ forecasts, doubting the far-reaching impact of obesity, though skepticism is gradually being overcome by accumulating data.
The “accumulating data” actually points to the contrary. Recent research has found that a little extra weight is in fact good for your health. A JAMA study this week confirmed that fitness trumps fatness as a predictor of health. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced this year that “we should continue to see improvements in life expectancy.”
Even Ludwig’s own research doesn’t support his latest allegations. In a 2005 study, he and fellow authors admitted that their dire prediction about longevity relied on “collective judgment” rather than empirical, scientific evidence. The lead researcher admitted to Science magazine that the study’s "life expectancy forecasts might be inaccurate."
Knowing this, it makes sense that Ludwig wants politicians to hurry and regulate our diets before they get all the facts. Once lawmakers realize that love-handles really aren’t the “tsunami” that he claims, Ludwig’s push for federal mandates (like “junk” food taxes, advertising limits, school lunch regulation, and mandatory insurance coverage for weight-loss programs) won’t hold any water.