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September 26, 1980

Body Build and Mortality

JAMA. 1980;244(13):1437. doi:10.1001/jama.1980.03310130017016

To the Editor.—  We agree with the timely editorial by Samuel Vaisrub, MD (243:1844, 1980), that suggests that corpulence is not only safe but may be desirable. Our forensic surveillance of jogging deaths1 is in agreement with the Framingham study by Sorlie et al (243:1828, 1980) in the sense that risk is highest at the two extremes of body build—the leanest and the fattest. Joggers of average build who run average training mileage have less risk than those who vary greatly from the mean.We expected the group with high body fat and low exercise levels to show more deaths from atherosclerosis. They had more risk factors such as smoking, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and long intervals of sedentary living.However, just as Sorlie et al were puzzled by the excess mortality in the leanest group, we are unable to explain the sudden deaths of elite runners. They usually die of cardiac