The use body of mass index, or BMI, as a health measurement has been debated for decades. A new study published by Rutgers University researchers indicates people considered overweight, a range between normal and obese, are not necessarily facing a higher risk of mortality.
The study sampled 554,332 adults and performed follow-ups after nine years and 20 years. It showed that among the absence of other comorbidities, BMI itself wasn't an additional risk factor for death among those merely overweight.
That, however, did not mean people with elevated BMIs were just as healthy. The study found those in higher BMI categories were more likely to have cardiovascular disease, a history of stroke, diabetes and other diseases.
The body mass index uses a simple formula combining a person's weight and height. A person with a body mass index between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered a normal weight. Those with a BMI between 25 and 29.9 are overweight, while those with a BMI of over 30 are considered obese.
Someone who is 6 feet tall and weighs 184 pounds would be considered overweight. Six feet tall and 221 pounds would be considered obese.
For someone 5-feet-6-inches, 155 pounds is considered overweight, while 186 pounds is obese.
The results, however, showed when adjusted for comorbidities, those considered overweight face roughly the same risk of a premature death as those considered to have a normal BMI.
The results also showed a steep increase in mortality risk among those significantly obese (a BMI of over 35).
The results of the survey followed the American Medical Association announcing new recommendations deemphasizing the use of body mass index as a measurement in medicine. The group now recommends considering BMI along with other factors, including visceral fat, body adiposity index, body composition, relative fat mass, waist circumference and genetic/metabolic factors.
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