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Obesity in middle age linked to higher risk of hospitalization and death in older age

Middle-age individuals without high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels but who are obese have an increased risk in older age for hospitalization or death from coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease, or diabetes, compared to individuals of normal weight, according to a study in the January 11 issue of JAMA.

Obesity adversely affects a large array of health outcomes, including coronary heart disease (CHD), other cardiovascular disease (CVD), and diabetes mellitus, according to background information in the article. Obesity is also associated with established cardiovascular risk factors, particularly diabetes and elevated levels of blood pressure and serum cholesterol. However, controversies persist as to whether excess weight has additional impact on CVD outcomes beyond its effects on established risk factors. Direct evidence on this issue is limited. In clinical settings, patients sometimes ask if they still need to control their weight if their blood pressure and cholesterol levels are not high. Therefore, in light of the worsening obesity epidemic, further research is warranted to examine whether obesity carries additional risks in the absence or presence of other major risk factors.

Lijing L. Yan, Ph.D., M.P.H., of the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, and Peking University, China, and colleagues examined the relationship of body mass index (BMI) earlier in life with illness and death outcomes in older age, i.e., 65 years and older, among individuals without and with other major risk factors at baseline. The Chicago Heart Association Detection Project in Industry study included 17,643 men and women aged 31 through 64 years, who were free of CHD, diabetes, or major electrocardiographic abnormalities at baseline (1967-1973). Cardiovascular risk was classified as low: systolic blood pressure 120 or less and diastolic blood pressure 80 mm Hg or less, serum total cholesterol level less than 200 mg/dL, and not
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Contact: Elizabeth Crown
312-503-8928
JAMA and Archives Journals
10-Jan-2006


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