#138 The skinny on BMI and mortality
Reading Tools for Practice Article can earn you MainPro+ CreditsJoin Now
Already a CFPCLearn Member? Log in
- Most studies1 (97 studies, 2.88 million participants) compared to normal (BMI 18.5-24.9), relative risks (RR):
- Overweight (BMI 25-29.9): RR=0.94.
- Obese Grade I (BMI 30-35): RR=0.95.
- Obese Grade ≥II (BMI >35): RR=1.29.
- Most participants2 (eight studies, 5.8 million participants) comparing to high normal BMI (22.5-25), hazard ratios (HR) for men:
- Low (BMI <18.5): HR=1.88.
- Low normal (BMI 18.5-20): HR=1.39.
- Mid normal (BMI 20-22.5): HR=1.15.
- High normal (BMI 22.5-25): HR=1.00.
- Low overweight (BMI 25-27.5): HR=0.97.
- High overweight (BMI 27.5-30): HR=1.04.
- Obesity Grade I (BMI 30-35): HR=1.18.
- Third largest3 (19 studies, 1.46 million participants) compared to BMI 22.5-24.9 for women:
- BMI <18.5-20: Increase mortality (HR=1.25).
- BMI 20-27.4: Very similar risk throughout range (HR=1.03-1.05).
- BMI >27.5: Mortality increases with BMI, examples:
- BMI 27.5-30: HR=1.14.
- BMI 40-50: HR=2.13.
- Others found similar.4-8
- Meta-analysis in specific populations:
- Diabetes:9 Similar to above.
- Elderly (age ≥65):1,10,11 Overweight lower risk (best ~27.5 BMI).10
- Pre-existing CVD,12-15 COPD,16 hemodialysis:17 Overweight and Grade I obesity similar risk12 or reduced risk13-17 relative to normal weight BMI.
- Confidence intervals not presented above: Trends of risk are more informative. Highest risk occurs at extremes of BMI with lowest risk occurring around 25 (27.5 in elderly). Minimal differences in HR/RR around 1 (e.g. 0.9-1.1) are likely of little clinical importance.
- Observational studies cannot prove causation.
- BMI indicates weight for height: Weight (in kilograms) divided by height (in metres) squared. BMI does not indicate fitness level.18
- Guidelines recommend the use of BMI as an assessment for obesity and intervention in individuals who are overweight and obese.19,20