you are an Asian, you don't have to be obese to suffer from obesity related
diseases. Are Asians on a different obesity scale?
to the World Health Organization, more than 1 billion adults across the world
are overweight, out of which at least 300 million are obese. Adipose (fat)
tissue, the culprit in obesity, is an active endocrine organ which is capable
of releasing biologically active factors that may contribute to obesity-related
diseases such as type-2 diabetes, coronary artery disease, hypertension,
stroke, and some types of cancers.
Wei Zheng of Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, Tennessee and his colleagues
observed that most studies evaluated the association between BMI and risks of
death from specific causes on European populations but the validity of these
criteria in Asian populations is yet to be determined. According to Dr. Zheng,
"A large number 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". This observation made them
perform pooled analyses to evaluate the link between BMI and risk of death in
study which was conducted as part of the "Asia Cohort Consortium" included
health status and mortality information of more than 1.1 million individuals from East and South
Asia over a period of 9.2
years. BMI was defined as weight in kilograms divided by the square of
height in meters.
In East Asians including Chinese, Koreans, and Japanese, the lowest
risk of death was noticed among individuals whose Body-Mass Index (BMI) was in
the range of 22.6 to 27.5, which is considered as normal to slightly overweight.
The risk increased in people with
BMI either higher or lower than that range.
Asians with a raised BMI of 35.0 or higher had a 50 percent higher risk of
the study found that the same does not hold true for Indians and Bangladeshis.
This goes to show that a high BMI
does not affect all ethnic groups in the same way.
"The most unexpected finding was that obesity
among sub-continent Indians was not associated with excess mortality,"
said Dr. John D. Potter of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Washington
, who was one of the researchers in
this study. He further added, "This may be because many obese people in
sub-continent India have a higher socioeconomic status and so have better
access to health care."
Investigator Paolo Boffetta, MD, Professor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine,
New York explained, "Severe underweight was highly prevalent in Asia in
the past, and we can still observe its important impact on mortality. However,
prevention of overweight and obesity deserves the highest priority."
John D. Potter added, "This confirms
that most people are at a higher risk for dying early if they are obese and is
a clear message not to gain weight as we age".
The authors concluded that their study provides strong evidence of
biologic relevance that weight contributes to a higher risk of death. Being
underweight is associated with increased risk of death in all Asian
populations. However, the excess risk of death associated with a high BMI has
been seen among East Asians but not among Indians and Bangladeshis.Reference