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Despite its limitations, the Body Mass Index (BMI) is still one of the easiest and must utilized tools for determing an individual's healthy body weight range. Currently, a BMI ranging from 18.5 - 24.9 is considered normal or healthy. A person with a BMI below 18.5 is considered to be underweight while a BMI of 25 - 29.9 is considered overweight and a BMI of 30 or more is defined as obese. Numerous research studies have clearly shown us that a high BMI, particularly an obese BMI, is linked to poor health and increased risk of death from certain conditions. However, the full relationship between BMI and overall mortality has remained unclear.
A group of investigators from around the world, including the National Institutes of Health, recently published the results of their examination of the link between BMI and death due to any cause. In order to analyze this relationship, the researchers pooled data from 19 studies that included a total of 1.46 million adults. During an average follow-up period of 10 years (ranging from 5 to 28 years), slightly more than 160,000 deaths were recorded. After adjusting for multiple factors (age, exercise, alcohol consumption, etc.) and using a reference BMI of 22.5 - 24.9, the researchers revealed that among healthy, non-smoking women there were specific relationships between BMI and risk of overall death as outlined below:
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