Have We Underestimated the Harmful Effects of Being Overweight?
According to a new study recently published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, research has in fact underestimated the harmful health effects associated with being overweight. The overall effects of body mass index (BMI) on health and risk of death can be difficult to determine, and some previous studies even suggested that optimal BMI may be higher than the typical recommendation, which is 18.5 to 24.9.
However, this new research tells a different story. Conducted at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, researchers assessed the link between BMI and risk of death in 32,452 mother and offspring pairs and 27,747 father and offspring pairs. The researchers used parent-child pairs for their study because, while BMI of parents and children is related due to genetic factors, BMI of adult offspring is not affected by parents’ medical conditions.
The researchers discovered that the harmful effects of low BMI were smaller and the damaging effects of high BMI were greater than indicated in previous studies. This is significant because worldwide obesity rates have risen from about 105 million in 1975 to 650 million in 2016, according to the World Health Organization.