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UC Davis study finds that above-normal weight alone does not increase the short-term risk of death
Date:7/6/2012

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) An evaluation of national data by UC Davis researchers has found that extra weight is not necessarily linked with a higher risk of death.

When compared to those with normal weight, people who were overweight or obese had no increased risk of death during a follow-up period of six years. People who were severely obese did have a higher risk, but only if they also had diabetes or hypertension.

The findings, which appear in the July-August issue of The Journal of American Board of Family Medicine, call into question previous studies -- using data collected when obesity was less common -- linking higher short-term mortality with any amount of extra weight.

"There is currently a widespread belief that any degree of overweight or obesity increases the risk of death, however our findings suggest this may not be the case," said Anthony Jerant, professor of family and community medicine and lead author of the study. "In the six-year timeframe of our evaluation, we found that only severe obesity was associated with an increased risk of death, due to co-occurring diabetes and hypertension."

Based on the study, Jerant recommends that doctors' conversations with patients who are overweight or obese, but not severely obese, focus on the known negative effects of these conditions on mental and physical functioning, rather than on an increased short-term risk of death.

By contrast, Jerant added that it is important for doctors to talk with severely obese patients who also have diabetes or hypertension about their increased short-term mortality risk and treatment, including weight loss.

"Our results do not mean that being overweight or obese is not a threat to individual or public health," said Jerant. "These conditions can have a significant impact on quality of life, and for this reason alone weight loss may be advisable."

In conducting the study, Jerant used nationwide data fro
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Contact: Karen Finney
karen.finney@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu
916-734-9064
University of California - Davis Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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