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Overweight and underweight affect life expectancy
Our weight can have a big impact on our health. Researchers have now found that both being overweight and underweight can shorten life expectancy by four years.
In their current study, scientists from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine found that being overweight and underweight has a significant impact on our life expectancy. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology".
Study included data from several million people
A total of several million people were involved in the very large study. The experts found that people over the age of 40 at the top end of the healthy body mass index (BMI) range had the least risk of dying from an illness. However, people at the top and bottom of the BMI risked a shorter life, the scientists say. The so-called body mass index evaluates a person's body weight in relation to their height. A healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 25. Many doctors believe that the BMI is the best way to find out if people are obese because it is accurate and easy to measure.
BMI affected many different causes of death
Life expectancy for men and women with obesity was 4.2 and 3.5 years shorter compared to people in the healthy BMI weight range, the doctors report. The BMI was associated with all categories of causes of death, including cancer, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. For most causes of death, it was found that there is an optimal BMI value, with the risk of premature death increasing both below and above this level, explains the study author Dr. Krishnan Bhaskaran from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. With a BMI under 21, more deaths from most causes were observed compared to optimal BMI values. However, this could partly reflect the fact that low body weight can be an indicator of an underlying disease.
Study found even the smallest effects
For most causes of death, the larger the weight difference, the greater the connection with the risk of mortality, the researchers say. Since it was a very large study, even the smallest effects could be identified, which could have been caused by a very small difference in weight.
Losing weight can protect against various diseases
Overweight people can lower their BMI in order to avoid illnesses and benefit from health benefits. The BMI can be a good method for analyzing a person's health. For example, diets or other weight loss measures can improve diabetes or reduce the risk of developing diabetes, which of course also affects mortality rates. (as)