Most of us know that being overweight or underweight is not healthy and may lead to a plethora of lifestyle-related diseases but according to a study published in the medical journal Lancet, being over or under your ideal weight might have some really serious repercussions – it could knock four years off your life.
“BMI is known to be strongly associated with all-cause mortality, but few studies have been large enough to reliably examine associations between BMI and a comprehensive range of cause-specific mortality outcomes”, the report states.
Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on height and weight that applies to adult men and women.
The report, one of the largest of its kind, involved samples from nearly 2 million people who were registered with doctors in the UK.
“Associations between BMI and mortality were stronger at younger ages than at older ages, and the BMI associated with lowest mortality risk was higher in older individuals than in younger individuals. Compared with individuals of healthy weight, life expectancy from age 40 years was 4·2 years shorter in obese men and 3·5 years shorter in obese women, and 4·3 years shorter in underweight men and 4·5 years shorter in underweight women”, the study found.
Researchers also found that, from the age of 40, people at the higher end of the healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) range had the lowest risk of dying from a disease. But people at the top and bottom ends of the BMI risked having shorter lives.
It continued, “BMI was associated with all causes of death categories, except transport-related accidents, including cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and respiratory diseases.”
However, according to a BBC report, an author of the research Dr Krishnan Bhaskaran said, “Not everybody in the healthy category is at the lowest risk of disease. For most causes of death we found that there was an ‘optimal’ BMI level, with the risk of death increasing both below and above that level.”