Being Underweight Linked to a Higher Risk of Death Than Being Obese

Mar 31, 2014 07:44 AM EDT | By Staff Writer

Is it better to be obese, or underweight? Apparently, being underweight may lead to more health problems than being overweight. Researchers have found that there's a higher risk of death for those who have a body mass index in the underweight range than those with a BMI in the obese range.

In this particular study, the researchers pooled their resources. They reviewed data from 51 studies that examined the link between BMI and death risk, according to Medical News Today. BMI is the measure of body fat based on weight and height in both women and men. In the end, the researchers found that being underweight is riskier than being obese.

"Society is appropriately very obesity-focused and concerned with how it impacts disease and death," said Joel Ray, the study's lead researcher, in an interview with Health News Line. "In the process of focusing on [obesity], we neglected the aspect of the underweight population amongst us. But we have an obligation to ensure that we avoid creating an epidemic of underweight adults and fetuses who are otherwise at the correct weight."

In fact, the researchers found that regardless of age, those who are classified as underweight with a BMI of 18.5 or lower have nearly twice the risk of death as those who fall into the average BMI range-between 18.5 and 25.9, according to Guardian Live.

The findings reveal the importance of not starving yourself to be skinny. More importantly, it shows that maintaining a healthy body weight is crucial for a healthy lifestyle. It's also important to note that in order to look at problems of excess body fat, we may want to look at waist size rather than BMI, according to Medical News Today. This can give a more accurate measurement of body fat rather than just looking at weight, which also includes muscle.

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