Even a few extra pounds can raise disease risk

July 24, 2001 in Diabetes & Diabetes Prevention, Healthy Eating, Weight Management

Even a few extra pounds can raise disease risk

According to a new report published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, adults who weigh in on the high end of the healthy range may be at increased risk for a range of chronic disorders. Not surprisingly, the risks increased with the severity of weight gain and among the heaviest adults.

Researchers from the Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts looked at the relationship between BMI and risk of developing type 2 diabetes, gallstones, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, colon cancer and high cholesterol over 10 years.

Body mass index (BMI) takes into account a person's weight in relation to his or her height. It is calculated by dividing weight (in kilograms) by height (in meters squared). A person with a BMI of 25 of more is considered overweight, while someone with a BMI of 30 or over is considered obese.

They observed that men and women in the upper half of the healthy weight category (i.e., BMI between 22 and 24.9) are significantly more likely than adults with lower BMIs to develop numerous health conditions.

Overweight women, or those with a BMI of 25 to 29.9, were significantly more likely to develop gallstones, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease, results show.

Overweight adults were more than three times as likely to develop type 2 diabetes than their thinner peers, while very obese adults--those with a BMI above 35--were about 20 times more likely than healthy-weight adults to develop diabetes.

People not traditionally considered to be overweight (those with a BMI of 22 to 24.9) were also at greater risk of developing at least one of the chronic diseases compared with their slimmer peers.

Based on their findings, the authors recommend that adults try to maintain a BMI of between 18.5 and 21.9.

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