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Obesity (Silver Spring). 2008 Jul;16(7):1714-7. doi: 10.1038/oby.2008.237. Epub 2008 Apr 17.

Relationship between BMI and all-cause mortality in Japan: NIPPON DATA80.

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Department of Health Science, Shiga University of Medical Science, Otsu, Japan.


As body composition in Asian populations is largely different from Western populations, a healthy BMI could also differ between the two populations. Thus, further study is needed to determine whether a healthy BMI in Asians should be lower than Western populations, as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). We investigated the relationship between BMI and mortality in a sample of 8,924 Japanese men and women without stroke or heart disease. During 19 years of follow-up, 1,718 deaths were observed. We found a U-shaped relationship between BMI and fatal events. Risk of total mortality was highest in participants with BMI <18.5 kg/m(2) and lowest in participants with BMI 23.0-24.9 kg/m(2). These findings persisted even after excluding the first 5 years of follow-up with a focus on healthy participants who never smoked, were aged <70 years, and had total cholesterol (TC) levels >or=4.1 mmol/l (N=3712). For both the full sample and healthy participants, all-cause mortality risk did not differ between BMI ranges 21.0-22.9 and 23.0-24.9 kg/m(2). Our findings do not support the recent WHO implications that BMIs <23.0 kg/m(2) is healthy for Asians. Therefore, further studies are needed to identify an optimal BMI range for Asia.

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