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The World in Medicine
December 17, 2008

Larger Waist, Smaller Lifespan

JAMA. 2008;300(23):2717. doi:10.1001/jama.2008.850

Excess abdominal fat is associated with a substantial increase in a person's risk of dying, even in cases when the body mass index (BMI) is within the normal range, according to a large European study (Pischon T et al. N Engl J Med. 2008;359[20]:2105-2120).

The study involved 359 387 individuals in 9 countries. The average age of participants (65% of whom were women) was 59.1 years at enrollment. During a mean follow-up of 9.7 years, 14 723 participants died. Besides confirming earlier findings that a higher BMI is significantly associated with mortality, the study found that among individuals with the same BMI, the risk of premature death increased as waist circumference increased.