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May 26, 1993

Obesity Experts Say Less Weight Still Best

JAMA. 1993;269(20):2617-2618. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03500200031013

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THE CURRENTLY recommended desirable weights for Americans are being subjected to renewed challenge. In the past 3 decades, the weight that people in this country are advised to achieve has been moved steadily upward—and this has some authorities worried.

"The present standards are much too permissive," says Robert J. Garrison, chief, Field Studies Branch, Division of Epidemiology and Clinical Applications of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Bethesda, Md. Garrison spoke at a New York (NY) Academy of Sciences symposium on obesity and weight control.

In 1959, the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company issued so-called desirable weight tables—"desirable" because the weights listed were those at which mortality was lowest among its clients. For example, the company stated that ideally an adult man who is 174-cm (5 ft 8 in) tall should weigh between 61 and 68 kg (135 to 149 lb). In a new table issued by Metropolitan in 1983,