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Science Advisory Issued on Risks of Overweight

Advisory seeks to dispel confusion over studies that associate overweight with reduced mortality

TUESDAY, June 9 (HealthDay News) -- Studies suggesting that total mortality risk is lowest in overweight people need to be placed in a broader context because of the substantial risks associated with excess weight, according to a Science Advisory from the American Heart Association published online June 8 in Circulation.

Writing on behalf of the American Heart Association, Cora E. Lewis, M.D., of the University of Alabama in Birmingham, and colleagues review the methodological issues affecting the evaluation and comparison of studies that associate overweight with total mortality, and analyze several recent studies to demonstrate how it's possible to draw conflicting conclusions. They also discuss how other factors such as age, ethnicity, gender, and body fat distribution can modify the association between body mass index and the total mortality rate.

The authors cite evidence showing that overweight is associated with adverse outcomes other than total mortality, such as diabetes and hypertension, and that overweight is typically a precursor of obesity and its multiple morbidities. They call for more research to evaluate the effectiveness of weight maintenance strategies in reducing health risks among overweight patients.

"Meanwhile, we cannot afford to wait for this research to begin addressing the problem of overweight in our patients and in our society," the authors conclude. "Both healthy eating patterns and physical activity have roles in managing weight and cardiovascular disease risk and should be encouraged in all. Because physical inactivity and excess weight have been independently associated with mortality in several studies, there are additional advantages to overweight and obese persons adopting an active lifestyle, as well as healthy eating habits."

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