Higher BMI is a risk factor associated with most leading causes of death in the U.S. including Cancer, Heart Disease and Diabetes.
In a 2014 population-based cohort study of not before seen size and rigor, London School of Hygeine & Tropical Medicine researchers reviewed the medical records of 5.4 million people, analyzing the correlation between BMI and risk of the 22 most common cancer types. BMI was linked to 17 specific cancer types, 10 more than previously thought . A subsequent special report by the World Health Organization estimated 130,000+ cases of cancer could be prevented each year if everyone in the U.S. were a healthy weight .
Obesity is a heart disease risk factor and higher BMI is correlated with increases in other heart disease risk factors including LDL ("bad") cholesterol and blood pressure. Further, a meta-analysis of 300,000 persons found overweight and obese persons to have a 32% and 81% higher risk of coronary artery disease respectively comparatively to those at a healthy weight . A separate meta-analysis of 390,000 persons found significant higher risk of early death from heart disease in obese individuals relative to persons with a lower BMI .
The WHO among many other health organizations, including AHA and Harvard, have identified obesity as a risk factor for heart disease. With all other risk factors held constant, the WHO estimated 21,000 fewer annual deaths from heart disease if mean BMI decreased to 25.5 in men and 23.6 in Women.
But more concerning relative to heart disease risk is the increase in Systolic Blood Pressure that correlates with BMI increase. The Chinese cross-sectional study of 55,000+ men pictured above, for example, found a strong positive relationship between BMI and blood pressure.
Diabetes is the single condition most strongly correlated with weight problems. A 2009 meta-analysis of 89 relevant studies found women with BMIs over 30 had a twelve times higher risk of developing Diabetes than normal BMI (under 25) women while men with BMIs over 30 had a seven times higher risk .
Estimated average lifetime risk of Diabetes in women (A) and men (B) by age and BMI based on National Health Interview Survey data (n = 780,694).
If you found this article interesting, you might also enjoy our free receipt analysis service. Upload your food receipts and our web app can instantly tell you cumulative stats from your purchases with important metrics like how much sodium and added sugar you’re getting relative to calories. It’s like a calorie counter but much faster to use. You can sign up here.