In the second study, U.S. government experts looked at specific causes of death based on weight. They also used data from NHANES but went back to 1971 and followed up through 2004.
Interestingly, they found that being overweight -- that's a body mass index (BMI, a ratio of weight to height) of 25 to 29.9 -- was not associated with an increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer. But overweight was linked to a decreased risk of death from non-cancer, non-cardiovascular disease causes. Being underweight -- a BMI of 18.5 or less -- was associated with a significantly higher risk of death from non-cancer, non-cardiovascular disease causes, according to the study.
Obesity -- defined as a BMI over 30 -- was associated with increased cardiovascular disease mortality. When the two groups -- overweight and obesity -- were combined, the risk of death from diabetes or kidney disease was higher. And, obesity was associated with an increased risk of death from obesity-related cancers, such as breast cancer.
"The message here is that it's not just that if you're heavier, you're at a higher risk of death from all diseases. It's a little more complex than that," said the study's author, Katherine Flegal, a senior research scientist at the National Center for Health Statistics at the CDC.
For advice on losing weight, visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
SOURCES: Dawn Alley, Ph.D., Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholar, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; Katherine Flegal, Ph.D., senior research scientist, National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Nov. 7, 2007, Journal of the American Medic
All rights reserved