Body Mass Index, often referred to as BMI, is a way we measure a person’s weight. It’s just a simple calculation based on your height and weight.
For years, doctors have used BMI to figure out if someone is underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese. But a new study suggests that a high BMI might not always be as bad as we think.
The Rise of Overweight and Obesity
Over the last quarter of a century, the number of people who are overweight or obese has increased a lot. We know being too heavy can cause serious health problems, like heart disease and diabetes.
But when it comes to dying from any cause – what scientists call ‘all-cause mortality’ – the link with BMI isn’t as clear.
Researchers Aayush Visaria and Soko Setoguchi from Rutgers University decided to look into this.
They used data from more than half a million U.S. adults collected between 1999 and 2018. They then grouped these people into nine different BMI categories.
They also had details about other factors that can affect health. These included things like age, gender, race, lifestyle habits, existing health problems, and access to healthcare.
The average age of the people in the study was 46, half were women, and nearly 70% were white. More than a third were overweight, and about a quarter were obese.
What Did They Find?
They followed up on these people for up to 20 years. During that time, about 75,800 of them died. Interestingly, the chance of dying was the same for many of the BMI categories.
Even more surprising, older people in the study didn’t have a higher chance of dying if their BMI was between 22.5 and 34.9. This includes BMIs that are usually classed as obese.
And for younger people, the same was true if their BMI was between 22.5 and 27.4. These patterns were similar for men and women, and for people of different races.
However, for those with a BMI of 30 or more, they found their risk of dying was between 21% and 108% higher.
What Does This Mean?
The researchers believe we need more studies to better understand the relationship between BMI and death rates.
But they suggest that having a BMI in the overweight range isn’t always linked with a higher risk of dying from any cause.
They warn, though, that this doesn’t mean being overweight doesn’t have health risks. The risk of getting serious health problems like heart disease and diabetes could still be higher for overweight people.
In conclusion, the researchers said, “Our study shows we need to be careful using BMI alone to make decisions about a person’s health.
There’s no clear link between higher death rates and BMIs in the normal to overweight range. But that doesn’t mean health problems are the same across these BMIs.”
This highlights the importance of considering all aspects of a person’s health, rather than relying on BMI alone.
More studies are needed to fully understand the complex relationship between BMI, health, and mortality.
If you care about weight loss, please read studies that hop extract could reduce belly fat in overweight people, and early time-restricted eating could help lose weight.
For more information about weight loss, please see recent studies that the Mediterranean diet can reduce belly fat much better, and the Keto diet could help control body weight and blood sugar in diabetes.
The study was published in PLOS ONE.
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