A massive study conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has calculated a new range of Body Mass Index (BMI) associated with the lowest risk of death from any cause in non-smoking adults. They determined that adults with a BMI between 20.0 and 24.9 are at the lowest risk of death. The study also gives a more precise estimate of the increased risk of death associated with being overweight and obese. The Centers for Disease Control currently define normal BMI as between 18.5 and 24.9.
“By combining data on nearly 1.5 million participants from 19 studies we were able to evaluate a wide range of BMI levels and other characteristics that may influence the relationship between excess weight and risk of death,” said Amy Berrington de Gonzalez, D.Phil., lead author of the study.
They found that overweight women who had never smoked and were otherwise healthy were 13 percent more likely to die within the period of the study than women with a BMI between 22.5 and 24.9. Obese women had a dramatically higher risk. Women with a BMI of 30.0 to 34.9 had a 44 percent increased risk of death, while women with a BMI of 35.0 to 39.9 had a 88 percent higher risk of death.
However, one major limitation to the study is that the study was limited to non-Hispanic white women. Further analysis is underway to study the relation between BMI and mortality in other ethnic groups.
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