Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Health Risks Begin In Overweight Range, BMI Doesn't Tell Whole Story

Date:
June 15, 2009
Source:
American Heart Association
Summary:
Being overweight increases the risk for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and other health conditions. Excess weight is progressive; thus, everyone above normal weight -- including children -- should avoid weight increases and reduce weight through healthy diet choices and regular physical activity. The statement recommends doing research on overweight and health, beyond studies that focus solely on the relationship between total body mass index and risk of death.

Being overweight is a health concern, and using only body mass index (BMI) to determine weight classification may not give an accurate picture of a person’s health, according to an advisory published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Related Articles


About one-third of the U.S. population is overweight — the middle range between normal weight and obesity. Overweight in adults is a BMI of 25.0 to 29.9. BMI is a numerical value of weight in relation to height.

Studies that examined the relationship between overweight (as measured by BMI) and risk of death from all causes (often referred to as total mortality) have had contradictory results. However, considering death from all causes overlooks the role that overweight may play in the development of risk factors for cardiovascular diseases.

Even among the young, overweight is related to the development of serious risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high blood pressure, obesity, elevated levels of cholesterol and type 2 diabetes.

Part of the problem with quantifying the true impact of overweight lies in the way it’s commonly measured, say the experts. The widely-used body mass index doesn’t distinguish between fat mass which is related to important health concerns — such as type 2 diabetes — and lean mass, including muscle, which reduces health risks. Also, BMI does not directly measure the distribution of fat, such as whether there is greater fat at the waist than at the hips, which may be more detrimental to health.

Focusing on the relationship between total mortality and BMI misses the “larger picture,” the statement said.

“This larger picture includes important relationships between BMI and other health outcomes, such as cardiovascular disease and its risk factors,” said Cora E. Lewis, M.D., M.S.P.H., lead author of the advisory and professor of medicine and public health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “Arguably, the most important relationship among the cardiovascular disease risk factors is diabetes, which is significantly more common in overweight than in normal-weight people.”

The advisory recommends doing research on overweight and health, beyond studies that focus solely on the relationship between total body mass index and risk of death.

“Meanwhile, we cannot afford to wait for this research to begin addressing the problem of overweight in our patients and in our society,” write the advisory authors.

An increasing number of children are overweight, which puts them at risk for developing higher than normal blood pressure, blood cholesterol and blood sugar.

“Weight gain is progressive and weight loss difficult. Although a young child is unlikely to have a heart attack, overweight children are likely to become overweight or obese adults, which puts them at risk for cardiovascular events as they mature. Achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight is of high importance for all Americans,” said Lewis.

Physical inactivity and excess weight increase risk of death and other adverse health outcomes; so overweight and obese persons in particular would benefit from adopting a physically active lifestyle and healthy eating habits.

Advisory co-authors include Kathleen M. McTigue, M.D., M.P.H.; Lora E. Burke, Ph.D., M.P.H.; Paul Poirier, M.D., Ph.D.; Robert H. Eckel, M.D.; Barbara V. Howard, Ph.D.; David B. Allison, Ph.D.; Shiriki Kumanyika, Ph.D., M.P.H.; and F. Xavier Pi-Sunyer, M.D. Author disclosures are available on the manuscript.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Heart Association. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Heart Association. "Health Risks Begin In Overweight Range, BMI Doesn't Tell Whole Story." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 June 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090608162539.htm>.
American Heart Association. (2009, June 15). Health Risks Begin In Overweight Range, BMI Doesn't Tell Whole Story. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090608162539.htm
American Heart Association. "Health Risks Begin In Overweight Range, BMI Doesn't Tell Whole Story." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090608162539.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) It's hard to resist those delicious but fattening carbs we all crave during the winter months, but there are some ways to stay satisfied without consuming the extra calories. Vanessa Freeman (@VanessaFreeTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) More than 100 motorcyclists hit the road to spread awareness messages about Ebola. Nearly 7,000 people have now died from the virus, almost all of them in west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) The new year is coming and nothing will energize you more for 2015 than protein-filled foods. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) gives his favorite high protein foods that will help you build muscle, lose fat and have endless energy. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins