Sunday, January 02, 2011

Weight and Death Risk

According to a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine, pooled data encompassing 1.46 million white adults, 19 to 84 years of age (median, 58 years), were used to examine the association between body mass index (BMI) and all-cause mortality. Age, smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activity, education, and marital status were all accounted for. Among healthy participants who never smoked, a J-shaped relationship between BMI and all-cause mortality was found. With a BMI of 22.5-24.9 as the reference category, hazard ratios among women were 1.47 for a BMI of 15.0-18, 1.14 for a BMI of 18.5-19.9, 1.00 for a BMI of 20.0-22.4, 1.13 for a BMI of 25.0-29.9, 1.44 for a BMI of 30.0-34.9, 1.88 for a BMI of 35.0-39.9, and 2.51 for a BMI of 40.0-49.9.

The authors conclude that in white adults, overweight and obesity (and possibly underweight) are associated with increased all-cause mortality. All-cause mortality is generally lowest with a BMI of 20.0-24.9.

Bonnie - while I have never used BMI to assess an individual's risk, it can be a useful tool when assessing one general assessment, such as death risk, in a large population pool.

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