Health Shorts: Stay lean, live long

Men and women who kept their body mass index (BMI) normal–between 22.5 and 25–had the lowest death rate, according to a analysis of 57 prospective studies conducted at Oxford University and published in Lancet [March 18, 2009 online edition]. For every five point increase above 25, the overall mortality rate increased by an average of 30 percent.

“The progressive excess mortality above this range is due mainly to vascular disease and is probably largely causal,” the authors wrote. They concluded that a BMI between 30 and 35 reduced median survival by two to four years; a BMI between 40 and 45, by eight to ten years–comparable to the effects of smoking.

A higher mortality rate for persons with BMIs under 22.5 was believed to be due mainly to smoking-related causes.

For more information regarding BMI, please visit Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center Health Information Library online.

[SOURCE: Laurie Barclay, M.D., “Body mass index above ideal range linked to large increase in mortality rate,” Medscape Medical news, March 17, 2009; Gary Whitlock, The Prospective Studies Collaboration, the Lancet, March, 18, 2009]

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Last Updated April 30, 2009