Body Mass Index Could Be An Important Factor To Determine When We Die

Published:December 6th, 2010

Although Body Mass Index has been a controversial method of measuring body fat, a new study focusing on mortality has shown that precise estimates of the increased risk of death can be offered for overweight and obese people. The Prospective Studies Collaboration released a study that assessed the association between BMI and mortality among nearly 1 million persons evaluated in studies focusing on evaluating the risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. Optimal BMI was found to be between 22.5 and 25. However, participants in this study included smokers and persons that had preexisting cancer. This factor undermined the association between BMI and all-cause mortality and the possibility of assessing which the optimal BMI should be.

Previous similar studies have offered inconclusive results, and this is the first study to report more precise risk related to different levels of obesity. The most recent study analyzed the results of 19 prospective previous studies where data on 1.46 million white, non-Hispanic adults and 160,087 deaths were analyzed.

Overweight people have a Body Mass Index of 25 to 29.9, while obese people have a BMI of over 30, severe obesity being associated with a BMI higher than 35. Combining data on 1.5 million participants, the recent study has evaluated a wide range of BMI levels and other characteristics that influence the relationship between excess weight and risk of death. The increased risk of death for people with a BMI of 25 or greater was present in all age groups and more frequent for people who were overweight or obese before they reach 50.

The researchers were investigators from the National Cancer Institute, the National Institutes of Health and other major research institutes worldwide. The study was published in the December issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.


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