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    Friday, April 02, 2004 5:40 am Email this article
    A body mass index of 22-23 in women and 24-25 in men is associated with the lowest mortality.

    In people who had never smoked the risk of mortality was lowest at a body mass index (BMI) of 23.5 to 24.9 in men and 22 to 23.4 in women according to researchers from the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, GA. The risk of death was not significantly different in men with a BMI of 22 to 26.4 in men and 20.5 to 24.9 in women.

    The risk of death was 2.6 times greater in the heaviest white men and 2 times greater in the heaviest white women compared to the lowest mortality groups.

    The risk of death was much lower in the heaviest black men and women with relative risks of 1.4 and 1.2 times greater which was not statistically greater than the lowest mortality groups.

    CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE: RISK OF DEATH 2.9 TIMES GREATER AMONG HEAVIEST

    Death from cardiovascular disease was the greatest risk among the heaviest groups being 2.9 times more common.

    The study included more than one million people from the United States and 14 years of follow-up.

    SMOKERS VS NON-SMOKERS

    The risk of death was increased roughly 50 percent in former smokers with no history of disease; roughly 100 percent in people who had never smoked but had a history of disease; and 200 percent in current or former smokers who had a history of disease.

    EXCESS WEIGHT LESS RISKY IN BLACKS THAN WHITES

    The increased risk of death was much smaller for blacks than whites.

    In the heaviest black men the relative risk was 1.35 compared 2.58 in the heaviest white men when compared to men with a BMI of 23.5 to 24.9. In the heaviest black women the risk was only 20-30 percent higher—a relative risk of 1.21 to 1.29—compared to a 76-100 percent higher risk—a relative risk of 1.76 to 2.0 in the heaviest white women.

    EXTREME LEANNESS ASSOCIATED WITH INCREASED RISK OF DEATH

    Extreme leanness, that is a BMI of less than 18.5, was associated with an increase in the risk of death in all groups.

    The increased risk of death associated with leanness was a result of cerebrovascular disease, pneumonia, and diseases of the central nervous system.

    “Leanness was most strongly associated with an increased risk of death among current or former smokers with a history of disease,” the authors wrote.

    HEART DISEASE: BEING OVERWEIGHT INCREASES RISK OF DEATH

    The risk of death from cardiovascular disease was greater for men with a BMI of more than 26.5 and for women with a BMI of more than 25.

    CANCER: RISK OF DEATH INCREASES WITH WEIGHT

    The risk of death from cancer increased with body weight. There was no increase in risk among the leanest people.

    RELATIVE RISK OF DEATH FROM EXCESS WEIGHT DECREASES WITH AGE

    The relative increase in the risk of death from excess weight decreases with age. Whereas the risk of death was increased 130-175 percent in the heaviest men who were under the age of 75-years-old, the risk was increased only 53 percent in those older than 75-years.

    The corresponding percentages in women were 109-170 percent versus 41 percent, respectively.

    REFERENCE

    Calle EE; Thun MJ; Petrelli JM; Rodriguez C; Heath CW Jr. Body-mass index and mortality in a prospective cohort of U.S. adults [see comments]. New England Journal of Medicine, 1999 Oct 7, 341(15):1097-105.

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