Do obesity mortality rates differ among racial groups?

Updated: Jun 09, 2021
  • Author: Osama Hamdy, MD, PhD; Chief Editor: Romesh Khardori, MD, PhD, FACP  more...
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The mortality data appear to have a U - or J -shaped conformation in relation to weight distribution. [99] Underweight was associated with substantially high risk of death in a study of Asian populations, and a high BMI is also associated with an increased risk of death, except in Indians and Bangladeshis. [100] A study in whites found that all-cause mortality is generally lowest with a BMI of 20-24.9 and reinforced that overweight and underweight lead to an increased risk of death. [101]

The degree of obesity (generally indicated by the BMI) at which mortality discernibly increases in African Americans and Hispanic Americans is greater than in white Americans; this observation suggests a notable racial spectrum and difference in this effect. The optimal BMI in terms of life expectancy is about 23-25 for whites and 23-30 for blacks. Emerging data suggest that the ideal BMI for Asians is substantially lower than that for whites. [19]

On the other hand, Boggs et al found that the risk of death from any cause among black women increased with a BMI of 25 or higher, which is similar to the pattern observed among whites.

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