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NIH study identifies ideal body mass index
Date:12/1/2010

A study looking at deaths from any cause found that a body mass index (BMI) between 20.0 and 24.9 is associated with the lowest risk of death in healthy non-smoking adults. Investigators also provided precise estimates of the increased risk of death among people who are overweight and obese. Previous studies that examined the risks from being overweight were inconclusive, with some reporting only modestly increased risks of death and others showing a reduced risk. Also, the precise risks for different levels of obesity were uncertain. The research team included investigators from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, and collaborators from a dozen other major research institutions worldwide. The results appear in the Dec. 2, 2010, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

BMI, the most commonly used measure for body fat, is calculated by dividing a person's weight in kilograms by the square of his/her height in meters (kg/m2). Current guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization define a normal BMI range as 18.5 to 24.9. Overweight is defined as a BMI of 25.0 to 29.9; obesity is defined as a BMI over 30.0; and severe obesity is defined as BMI 35 or higher. For a BMI calculator, go to http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/bmicalc.htm.

Obesity has emerged as a leading public health concern in the United States. It has been well-established that people who are obese face increased risks of death from heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers. Currently, two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese. Even more worrisome, 17 percent of women and 11 percent of men are severely obese.

In this large analysis, investigators pooled data from 19 long-term studies designed to follow participants over time, from 5 to 28 years, depending on the study.

They found that healthy women wh
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Contact: NCI Press Officers
ncipressofficers@mail.nih.gov
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NIH/National Cancer Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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