As the saying goes, "you can never be too rich or too thin", but it now appears that you can be "too thin", according to a new study published in the March 28 issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Public Health.
The study found that people who are too skinny, as in those who are clinically underweight, have a higher risk for dying than those who are obese.
Researchers involved in the study poured over more that 50 earlier studies, concluding that people who were excessively underweight were nearly twice as likely to die than their normal weight counterparts.
Study leader Dr. Joel Ray, at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, expressed concern that attention has focused so much on the problem of obesity that it may have “created an epidemic of underweight adults and fetuses”.
The research team followed up with patients in the study for a period of five years or more, looking at associations between BMI (body mass index) and the number of deaths from any cause. The team also examined mortality rates in comparison to the weight patterns of newborns and stillborns.
As a result, they found that for patients of any age, those who were too thin and had a BMI of 18.5 or lower, had a 1.8 times greater chance of dying than those of a healthy weight with a normal BMI between 18.5 and 25.9.
Among the obese who had a BMI between 30 and 34.9, they had a 1.2 greater risk for death than people who had a normal weight, and for the excessively obese with a BMI of 35 or more, their risk of death was 1.3 times greater.
Dr. Ray also talked about the importance of keeping weight stable when it comes to the battle of the bulge and the obesity epidemic. He believes that more attention should be paid to the issue of excess body fat and replacing BMI with a more appropriate measurement, such as one's waist circumference.
The study also noted that factors linked to being underweight include malnourishment, poverty, smoking, mental illness, and drug or alcohol use.