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Extreme Obesity Is Extremely Risky

Severe obesity is much more deadly than merely being fat


Updated July 17, 2006

By DrRich

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh report in the July 5 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association that women who are extremely obese have a significantly higher risk of early death than women who are less obese.

They reached this conclusion after analyzing data from the Women's Health Initiative - Observational Study, which followed over 90,000 women, between the ages of 50 - 79, for seven years. Mortality rates were compared among these women, grouped according to their body-mass index (BMI), a measure of obesity. Women who were very obese (BMI between 35 - 39.9) had a mortality rate that was 51% higher than normal weight women (BMI between 18.5 - 24.9,) and 45% higher than women who were merely overweight (BMI between 25 - 29.9). Women who were extremely obese (BMI 40 or higher) had a mortality rate that was 72% higher than normal weight women, and 65% higher than women who were merely overweight.

DrRich Comments:

Obesity is a well-known risk factor for cardiovascular disease. This latest study adds to the evidence that the more obese you are, the higher the risk. It also shows that the degree of excess risk is related to the degree of excess weight - so you don't have to actually become skinny to gain some benefit. Losing some weight is much better than losing no weight.

If you know your height and weight, you can calculate your own BMI here.


McTigue K, Larson JC, Valoski A, et al. Mortality and cardiac and vascular outcomes in extremely obese women. JAMA2006; 296:79-86.

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