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Body weight influences Asian death risk

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SEATTLE, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- A study of more than 1 million Asians provides strong evidence excess weight contributes to a higher risk of death, researchers say.

Study leader Dr. Wei Zheng of Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville, Dr. Paolo Boffetta of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York and Dr. John D. Potter of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle found that those with a normal weight were far less likely to die from any cause than individuals whose body-mass index was too high or low.

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"Previous studies that evaluated the association between BMI and the risk of death have been conducted primarily in populations of European descent," Zheng said in a statement.

"A large proportion of Asians are very thin and the impact of a severely low BMI on the risk of death has not been well evaluated until now."

In the Chinese, Japanese and Koreans, the lowest risk of death was seen among individuals with a BMI in the range of 22.6 to 27.5 -- normal to slightly overweight, but these East Asians with a raised BMI of 35 or higher had a 50 percent higher risk of death.

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However, this was not true for Indians and Bangladeshis.

"This may be because many obese people in sub-continent India have a higher socioeconomic status and so have better access to healthcare," Potter said.

The findings are published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

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