This is the bottom line from a new study out of the Harvard School of Public Health: the higher your body weight or BMI, the greater your risk of premature death.

Keeping things lean

Women Walking Exercise

This is the bottom line from a new study out of the Harvard School of Public Health: the higher your body weight or BMI, the greater your risk of premature death. The researchers gathered data from more than 10 million people in 239 large studies from 32 countries; in other words, it was a huge volume of data. The recruited participants were non-smokers without chronic disease.

Study results showed that a healthy weight or BMI between 22 and less than 25 indicated the lowest death risk. And then death risk increased as weight increased:

BMI of

  • 25 to less than 27.5 = 7 percent higher death risk
  • 27.5 to less than 30 = 20 percent higher death risk
  • 30 to less than 35 = 45 percent higher death risk
  • 35 to less than 40 = 94 percent higher death risk

Every 5 units higher above a BMI of 25 increased the risk of premature death.

What were the causes of death? 49 percent cardiovascular – heart attacks and strokes; 38 percent respiratory (lung) deaths, and 19 percent were cancer deaths. The death risks from too much weight were greater in younger people, and greater in men versus women.

This very large multi-country study is just more evidence that maintaining a healthy-for-you weight throughout your life is a very good thing. There is nothing magical to make that happen but the foundation for being well and a healthy weight is:

  • Stay active
  • Keep most meals prepped at home with less-processed ingredients
  • Enjoy more seasonal fruits and vegetables for snacking
  • Drink non-calorie beverages, and stay hydrated
  • Get adequate sleep each night

Recipes to try:

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About the Author

Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.