Obesity in African-American Women Boosts Risk of Death

New study finds that black women with higher BMIs have a greater chance of dying and developing heart disease.

It's not a secret that the more you weigh, the more at risk you are for health issues. A recent study conducted at Boston University found that a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 and higher increases the risk of death among African-American women. This study contradicts older studies that believe a higher BMI — 35 or more — increases death risk.


A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is termed healthy; 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight; and 30 and higher is considered obese.


This study, which is part of the on-going Black Women's Health Study, analyzed surveys from more than 59,000 participants over two years. Web MD reported:


Through 2008, the researchers found 1,773 deaths; 770 of these were among the 33,916 nonsmokers they were studying. They took into account such factors as age, physical activity and alcohol intake. They found that the risk of death from any cause rose as the BMI rose.


The risk was highest for heart disease. Women with a BMI of 25 to 29 had a two times higher risk of death from heart disease as normal-weight women. Those with a BMI of 30 or higher had three times the risk.…


Next, the researchers focused on the non-obese women. They compared those with large waists (above 35 inches) and those with smaller waists.


"The women in the largest group 35 inches or higher had a 50% increased risk of dying compared with those not obese with a waist circumference less than 35 inches," says researcher Julie R. Palmer, professor of epidemiology at Boston University."


Cedric M. Bright, MD, the president of National Medical Association, wrote in a statement, “African-American women have the highest rates of obesity and this directly correlates to other [coexisting] conditions like diabetes, hypertension, certain cancers, heart attacks and strokes. Unfortunately, the epidemic of obesity in women is often passed on to their children and families."


(Photo: REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly)

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