Mortality Attributable to Obesity among Middle -and Older-Aged Adults in the U.S.: Results from the Health and Retirement Study

Neil Mehta, University of Pennsylvania
Virginia W. Chang, University of Pennsylvania

Obesity is considered a major source of premature mortality. While the number of studies exploring the association between obesity and mortality is large, few studies measure attributable deaths from obesity. We measure relative and attributable risks associated with obesity among middle-aged adults from the nationally representative Health and Retirement Study (1992-2004). While class II/III obesity (BMI≥35.0) increases mortality by 53% compared to normal BMI (18.5-24.9), class I obesity (30.0-34.9) and overweight (25.0-29.9) are not associated with mortality. With respect to attributable mortality, obesity (BMI≥30.0) is responsible for only 2% of deaths in this population. Results are robust to confounding by diseases, SES, smoking, and other correlates. These findings challenge the viewpoint that obesity will stem the long-term secular decline in US mortality.

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Presented in Session 38: Obesity, Health, and Mortality