Contrary to what was previously assumed, overweight is not increasing the overall death rate in the German population. Men who are overweight even have a 7% lower death rate.
Matthias Lenz of the Faculty of Mathematics, Computer Science, and Natural Sciences of the University of Hamburg and his co-authors present these and other results in the current issue of Deutsches Ärtzeblatt International.
• Most Germans are overweight - with a body mass index (BMI) between 25 and 29.9 kg/m2.
• About 20% are obese (BMI of 30 or over), with age- and gender-related differences.
The authors systematically evaluated 42 studies of the relationships between weight, life expectancy, and disease. Their free access report - “The Morbidity and Mortality Associated with Overweight and Obesity in Adulthood” - shows that:
• Overweight does not increase death rates,
• Although obesity does increase them by 20%.
• As people grow older, obesity makes less and less difference.
• For coronary heart disease, overweight increases risk by about 20% and obesity increases it by about 50%.
• On the other hand, a larger BMI is associated with a lower risk of bone and hip fracture.
• In relation to cancer, the overall death rate among even extremely obese men (BMI above 40) is no higher than among those of normal weight.
• Men who are overweight even have a 7% lower death rate. No significant association was found in women.
According to the authors' analysis, overall mortality is unchanged by overweight, but increased by 20% by obesity, while extreme obesity raises it by up to 200%.
Source: Deutsches Arzteblatt International news release, Oct 16, 2009