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May 4, 1994

Body Weight and Mortality

JAMA. 1994;271(17):1320. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510410032024

To the Editor.  —The work by Dr Lee and colleagues1 demonstrating a direct link between body weight and mortality and lack of greater mortality among the lean after considering the effects of illness-related weight loss and smoking2 is a reminder that perhaps our messages to the public have been less than perfect.In the past two decades, the link between coronary artery disease and the quality of diet and other behaviors has been established, with emphasis on qualitative aspects of diet (eg, less fat and cholesterol). Should we have placed equal or greater emphasis on the quantitative aspects of diet? The public has been advised to consume more nuts, fish, fish oil, red wine, oat bran, and white meat, but seldom told to eat less. Even the standards for desirable body weight have been increasing over the years. Have we stopped to think that perhaps the direction of

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