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Extra Pounds a Deadly Risk Factor for Black Women: Study
Date:9/7/2011

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Carrying extra weight, especially around the middle, is a risk factor for death among black women, according to a new study.

And the heavier a woman is, the greater her risk of dying sooner than her normal-weight peers.

"The risk of death increased incrementally with rising body mass index (BMI). Once women were above normal weight, they had an increased risk of death," said the study's senior author, Dr. Julie Palmer, a professor of epidemiology at the Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University.

In addition, she said, "independent of BMI, women who had a higher waist circumference had an increased risk of death. And, this finding was primarily in normal-weight women."

Palmer said as women gain weight, the health risks of obesity may diminish the impact of a larger waist on the risk of death.

Results of the study are published in the Sept. 8 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Overall obesity and abdominal obesity are both increasing rapidly in America. It's projected that by 2020, as many as 70 percent of black women in America will be obese and up to 90 percent will have abdominal obesity, according to background information in the study.

Some previous research had suggested that obesity might not increase the risk of death as much for black women as it does for white or Asian women in America. Authors of the current study suspected that other factors, such as smoking or socioeconomic status, might have mitigated the actual effects of obesity on the risk of death in black women.

The current study included data from the Black Women's Health Study, a national sample of almost 52,000 black women in America. The women were between the ages of 21 and 69 when they enrolled in the study, and none had a history of cancer or heart disease.

The study began in 1995 and continued thro
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