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March 20, 1981

Body Build, Running, and Mortality

Author Affiliations

Los Angeles

JAMA. 1981;245(11):1120-1121. doi:10.1001/jama.1981.03310360012010

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To the Editor.—  We disagree with the concurrence of Dr Bassler with the editorial of Samuel Vaisrub, MD (1980;243:1844). Apparently, the groups at the extreme poles studied (the leanest and the fattest) are at risk of excess mortality. This does not call for Dr Bassler's endorsement of, "corpulence"—in runners or others. A dietary history of these lean runners might have uncovered serious deficits in vitamins, minerals, and other vital nutrients. No dietary history is given. "Self-imposed low-fat diet[s]" may be badly flawed. A well-conceived, sensible, low-fat diet can be beneficial to a person's health (and running).We consider it a mistake to promote obesity based on a handful of case studies lacking good dietary histories (especially in light of the fact that all three people had previous histories of cardiac problems before their deaths).Based on existing information, a low-fat diet is healthier than a high-fat diet.