Dictionary.com ‘Misinforms’ Readers About Obesity in Word of the Year Announcement

Last we checked, Dictionary.com is not a great place to get medical advice.

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In a press release from Cision’s PR Newswire Monday morning, Dictionary.com says excess weight is not necessarily a sign of poor health. | Image: Nick Youngson via The Blue Diamond Gallery
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A screenshot of Dictionary.com’s 2018 Word of the Year, misinformation.

Is Being Overweight or Obese Really So Bad?

In the context of obesity, Dictionary.com’s press release refers to “many studies” showing that weight is “not necessarily a sign of poor health,” yet they do not mention any particular studies. In fact, studies indicating possible beneficial effects of slight excess weight do not apply to obesity and have come under fire for having serious methodological flaws. In science, that is usually enough to start over — to design the experiment anew.

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A screenshot of Dictionary.com’s obesity entry. “His obesity puts him at risk for major health problems.”
  1. Association between BMI and mortality. The researchers found that parents’ BMI and offspring BMI were both associated with mortality from all-causes, stroke, diabetes, and cancer.
  2. Understanding Long-Term Effects of Childhood Obesity. “Researchers found that individuals with worsening or persistent obesity had significantly greater cardiovascular risk later in life. They were more likely to have conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and plaque build-up in the arteries, all of which greatly increase risk for heart disease and life-threatening heart events.”
  3. Does obesity cause cancer? “If a person is overweight they are more likely to get cancer than if they are a healthy weight.”
  4. Effects of Maternal Obesity on Offspring. Epigenetic mechanisms may explain effects of maternal obesity on children. “Maternal obesity and diabetes during pregnancy, which are on the rise, are strongly associated with altered fetal growth and development as well as with lifelong perturbations in metabolic tissues.”
  5. Being overweight, not just obese, carries serious health risks. “Having a high BMI accounted for 4 million deaths globally, 40% of which occurred in people who were overweight but not yet obese.”

North Dakota-born science writer in British Columbia. Research communications specialist. Founder of The Other Autism: https://other-autism.com/

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