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BMJ 2006; 333 doi: (Published 31 August 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:490
  1. Kristina Fister, associate editor (

    Adiposity, including overweight, is linked with higher mortality

    Two large observational studies provide new evidence on the association of the body mass index (weight (kg)/(height (m)2)) and mortality. In the United States, a study included more than half a million people aged 50 to 71 years at baseline who were followed up for a decade. More than 60 000 participants died during follow-up. Initially, the relationship between body mass index and mortality was U shaped. Being underweight or obese bore an increased risk of death, whereas the risk for overweight people was slightly increased compared with that for people of normal weight, and risk did not reach statistical significance in some groups.

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    Credit: N ENGL J MED

    The large sample allowed precise subgroup analyses—the cohort included more than 186 000 people who never smoked. As smoking is associated with lower body mass index and increased mortality, it distorts the relationship between the two. The association between the body mass index and mortality was J shaped when only people who never smoked were analysed, …

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