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Risk of death among postmenopausal women with normal weight and high abdominal fat

July 24, 2019

Bottom Line: Postmenopausal women with normal weight (body mass index 18.5 to 24.9) and central obesity (waist circumference greater than 88 cm) are at higher risk of death compared to women with normal weight and no central obesity. Obesity prevention commonly focuses on BMI, which can't distinguish body shape or body fat distribution. The high abdominal fat distribution that is central obesity is common in the general population. This observational study examined the associations of normal-weight central obesity with risk of death using data from nearly 157,000 postmenopausal women enrolled in the Women's Health Initiative between 1993 and 1998. Normal-weight central obesity in women was associated with an increased risk of death that was comparable to that of women with obesity (BMI equal to or greater than 30) and central obesity. Limitations of the study include its focus on postmenopausal women so the findings may not be broadly generalizable to younger women or men. The study authors suggest that normal-weight central obesity in women may be an underrecognized high-risk subpopulation and that the prevention and control of central obesity should be included in clinical and public health guidelines, even for individuals of normal weight.

Authors: Wei Bao, M.D., Ph.D., University of Iowa, Iowa City, and coauthors

(doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.7337)

Editor's Note: The article includes conflict of interest and funding/support disclosures. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.
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