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Extra Weight not a Short-term Mortality Risk Factor

Extra Weight not a Short-term Mortality Risk Factor

(epharmanews) – Being overweight or obese does not necessarily mean one is at higher risk of death, according to researchers from the University of California Davis.

After a six years follow-up, the research did not find an increased risk of death in people who were overweight or obese, compared to people with normal weight. However, people who were severely obese had a higher risk only if they also had diabetes or high blood pressure (hypertension).

Anthony Jerant, professor of family and community medicine and lead author of the study said: “There is currently a widespread belief that any degree of overweight or obesity increases the risk of death, however our findings suggest this may not be the case,”
“In the six-year timeframe of our evaluation, we found that only severe obesity was associated with an increased risk of death, due to co-occurring diabetes and hypertension.

Jerant recommended that the conversations doctors have with their overweight or obese patients, who also have diabetes or high blood pressure, about treatment for their increased short-term risk of death, including weight loss.

However, doctors’ conversations with patients who are overweight or obese, but not severely obese, should be concentrated on the known negative effects of extra weight on both mental and physical functioning, Jerant added.

“Our results do not mean that being overweight or obese is not a threat to individual or public health,” said Jerant. “These conditions can have a significant impact on quality of life, and for this reason alone weight loss may be advisable.”

The researchers utilized nationwide data from 2000 to 2005 of about 51,000 adults, ages 18 to 90, who participated in the Medical Expenditure Panel Surveys on health-care utilization and costs. The surveys include information on health conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. Mortality was assessed using the National Death Index. Of the 50,994 people included in the UC Davis analysis, just over 3 percent (1,683) died during the six years of follow-up.

Severely obese people were 1.26 times more likely to die during follow-up than people in the normal weight group. When people with diabetes or hypertension were eliminated from the data, death rates were similar regardless of the weight. In addition, people who were underweight were almost twice as likely to die as people with normal weight whether or not they had diabetes or hypertension.

“We hope our findings will trigger studies that re-examine the relationship of being overweight or obese with long-term mortality,” concluded Jerant.

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Prepared by: Abdullatief Janat

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