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On Hold with Atchka! and Dr. Katherine Flegal

June 15, 2012

I cite Dr. Katherine Flegal a lot.

Dr. Flegal is the woman who thoroughly debunked the “obesity/overweight cause 400,000 deaths per year” and said, “Nope, it’s more like 26,000.”

Dr. Flegal’s work is the cornerstone on which I built my understanding of these issues. It was only by seeing on paper that the CDC had grossly overrepresented the mortality risk of overweight and obesity that I realized that there might be something to this whole Fat Acceptance thing.

So, as I began to acquire interviews, my Golden Snitch was to speak with Dr. Flegal. When I finally landed the interview, I was so exuberant as to border on manic the day of the interview. She talked me down from my paranoid theories on why the CDC would produce such a grotesquely inaccurate estimate, and the conversation goes into some very interesting areas.

One which stuck with me is when she explained how BMI and waist circumference (WC) produce identical results, contrary to popular belief. WC has been proposed as the “new BMI” and a better indicator of a person’s metabolic health.

Flegal said it isn’t. And it wasn’t until much later that I read where Dr. Gerald Reaven, who reintroduced the concept of metabolic disorder in 1988, also confirmed that BMI and WC are identical in terms of risk factors. I wrote about Reaven’s change of heart on metabolic disorder here.

Since my interview with Flegal, her team has released yet another NHANES report that confirms the stability of obesity rates through 2010.

And as if I needed confirmation of Flegal’s awesomeness, today I watched this lecture by Dr. Jeffrey Friedman, who discovered leptin, and he mentioned her as well. At the very end of the question and answer session, he talks about how he called Flegal to verify obesity rates and Flegal both confirmed his suspicions AND told him how exasperated she was that nobody would listen to her.

Well, Dr. Flegal, we’re listening and we value your work and your message immensely. So, I hope you all enjoy this conversation with Dr. Flegal (you can read my old introduction here).

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Katherine Flegal permalink
    June 16, 2012 1:01 am

    Thanks for the kind words. You do have one picture of me standing behind a podium giving a talk. But the full face picture you are using is actually a picture of Dr. Linda Bartoshuk, not of me. It was used to illustrate a column by Dr. Bartoshuk that was about my work, and you are not the first person to assume that it was a picture of me, but it isn’t! Here is a link to a real picture of me

    • June 16, 2012 11:03 pm

      What an honor to have you visit, Dr. Flegal.

      Seriously, I have always pictured you as Dr. Bartoshuk! I saw that picture of you and my first thought was, “Well, that doesn’t look anything like Dr. Flegal.” I’m such a simp!

      Now I’ve found several photos of you since I know what you look like. 🙂

      For instance, this is you.

      Yes Flegal

      And in this photo, you’re even labeled!

      Yes Flegal

      But for two years now, I’ve assumed that this was you.

      No Flegal

      I am so embarrassed! But not so much since I’m not the first.

      But, just in case, I made this handy graphic that should help people out when they do an image search for Dr. Katherine Flegal.

      Flegal Not Flegal

      And since I still have one more interview/video to go, I’ll throw another slideshow together to correct the mistake.

      Thank you so much for all that you do. We’re doing our best to spread your message, and if you ever want a platform to spread your message, we’re hear to act as your megaphone.

      And thanks again for taking the time to talk to me.


  2. Ashley permalink
    February 26, 2013 2:08 pm

    Actually, pal. You probably ought to abandon her research. She has some pretty significant errors in methodology… or so superior sources have determined. Her work doesn’t check out. You’d be better off spending a half an hour at the gym than an hour reading her research.

    • February 26, 2013 2:28 pm

      Oh please, this is the same group of people that convened an emergency session to refute the 2005 NHANES mortality risk assessment that found similar results. Flegal stuck by her guns and the CDC retracted it’s previous flawed estimate from 400,000 deaths due to overweight and obesity, to 365,000 and finally said Flegal was right. The Harvard School for Public Health, led by Walter Willett, tries to refute Flegal every time and fails. Their main bone of contention is that she didn’t account for pre-existing conditions, which she did back then and she does now.

      But I tell you what, I see that there’s a video of the conference and I will watch it at some point in the coming month or so to see what they have to see and will return with a post commenting on it.


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