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Home Industry News Harmful impact of being overweight ‘may be underestimated’

Harmful impact of being overweight ‘may be underestimated’

4th December 2017

The current understanding of the health impact of being overweight may be underestimating the harm it can cause, according to a new study.

Research from the University of Bristol has analysed body mass index, health and mortality data from around 60,000 parents and their children to establish how obesity actually influences risk of death.

The findings contradicted previous studies suggesting that the BMI at which the risk of death is minimised may be above the range normally recommended by doctors, and that it is good for health to be mildly overweight.

The team suspected that previous assumptions did not take into account that many illnesses and health-damaging can lead to both lower BMI and an increased risk of death, which is why genetically-related patients at different stages of life were assessed to filter out cases where illness led to low BMI, rather than BMI influencing illness.

Ultimately, this revealed that the apparent harmful effects of low BMI were less than expected, while the harmful effects of high BMI were greater than those found in the conventional analyses. 

Study leader Dr David Carslake, senior research associate from the Medical Research Council Integrative Epidemiology Unit at the University of Bristol, said: "This study demonstrates that correlation is not causation and that when it comes to public health recommendations we need to be cautious interpreting data based on associations alone."

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