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Article
January 16, 1987

Body Weight and LongevityA Reassessment

Author Affiliations

From the Channing Laboratory and the Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital (Drs Manson, Stampfer, Hennekens, and Willett), the Departments of Preventive Medicine and Clinical Epidemiology, Harvard Medical School (Dr Hennekens), and the Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health (Drs Manson and Willett), Boston.

From the Channing Laboratory and the Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital (Drs Manson, Stampfer, Hennekens, and Willett), the Departments of Preventive Medicine and Clinical Epidemiology, Harvard Medical School (Dr Hennekens), and the Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health (Drs Manson and Willett), Boston.

JAMA. 1987;257(3):353-358. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03390030083026
Abstract

Conflicting results have been reported concerning the association between body weight and longevity. The shape of the curve relating weight to all-cause mortality has been variously described as linear, J-shaped, and even U-shaped. To assess the validity of the evidence for optimal weight recommendations, we examined the 25 major prospective studies on the subject. Each study had at least one of three major biases: (1) failure to control for cigarette smoking, (2) inappropriate control of biologic effects of obesity, such as hypertension and hyperglycemia, and (3) failure to control for weight loss due to subclinical disease. The presence of these biases leads to a systematic underestimate of the impact of obesity on premature mortality. Although these biases preclude a valid assessment of optimal weight from existing data, available evidence suggests that minimum mortality occurs at relative weights at least 10% below the US average.

(JAMA 1987;257:353-358)

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