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J Epidemiol. 2006 Jul;16(4):139-44.

Impact of overweight and obesity on medical care costs, all-cause mortality, and the risk of cancer in Japan.

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  • 1Division of Epidemiology, Department of Public Health and Forensic Medicine, Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine, Japan.


We conducted three prospective cohort studies that examined the association between body mass index (BMI) and health outcomes in Japan. Our studies found statistically significant relationships between excess body weight and increased medical costs, all-cause mortality, and risk of cancer incidence. There was a U-shaped association between BMI and mean total costs. The estimated excess costs attributable to overweight and obesity was 3.2% of the total costs. This 3.2% is within the range reported in studies in Western countries (0.7%-6.8%). We observed statistically significant elevations in mortality risk in obese (BMI> or = 30.0 kg/m(2)) women and lean (BMI<18.5 kg/m(2)) men and women. Our prospective cohort study found statistically significant relationships between excess weight and increased risk in women of all cancers. The population attributable fraction (PAF) of all incident cancers in this population that were attributable to overweight and obesity were 4.5% in women, which were within the range reported from Western populations, from 3.2% for US women to 8.8% for Spanish women. Our data suggests that excess body weight is a problem not only in Western countries but also in Japan.

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