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J Epidemiol. 2005 May;15(3):70-7.

Body mass index and mortality in a middle-aged Japanese cohort.

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Department of Virology and Preventive Medicine, Gunma University School of Medicine, Japan.



The relative risk of mortality in low and high body mass index (BMI) categories in various ethnic groups remains a controversial subject.


To examine the relationship between BMI and mortality, a population-based prospective cohort study was conducted in two areas of Gunma Prefecture, Japan, in 1993. A total of 5,554 men and 5,827 women aged 40-69 years completed a self-administered questionnaire and were followed up until the year 2000. The hazard ratios (HRs) were estimated by the Cox proportional hazards model for different BMI classes.


During the seven year follow-up period, 329 men and 147 women died. As compared with those in the reference BMI category (22.0-24.9 kg/m(2)), men and women in the lowest BMI category (<18.5 kg/m(2)) had a HR (95% confidence interval [CI]) of death from all-causes of 2.66 (1.59-4.46) and 3.14 (1.38-7.13), respectively, and women in the highest BMI category (28.0+ kg/m(2)) had a HR of death of 3.25 (1.48-7.15), after adjusting for all possible confounding factors including smoking and after excluding deaths occurring during the first three years of follow-up.


In this prospective study of a Japanese cohort consisting of subjects ranging in age from 40 to 69 years, the curve depicting the relationship between BMI and all-cause mortality was L-shaped in men and U-shaped in women.

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