ABSTRACT : Morbidity in the underweight.

Associations of morbidity in the underweight.

Kelly SJ, Leonardi-Bee J

European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2010, 64(5):475-82


BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES: There is little research on the demographic characteristics and morbidity of people categorized as ‘underweight’ from their body mass index (BMI) although they have often been shown to have greater mortality. This uncertainty makes it difficult to determine whether to include or exclude these individuals when estimating the health and mortality impacts of BMI. This project compares the demographic characteristics and morbidity patterns of the underweight with those of acceptable weight and the overweight. SUBJECTS/

METHODS: Data on 10 243 community-living residents from the Health Survey for England (2003) were used. Logistic regression models were constructed to compare demographic, biochemical and anthropometric factors in the underweight (BMI

RESULTS: Univariate analyses found, when compared with other BMI categories, underweight individuals were significantly younger, more likely to smoke, alcohol abstainers, inactive, poorer and were less likely to be ethnically white (all P

CONCLUSIONS: We recognize that these are cross-sectional data and exclude individuals in institutional settings, but these findings are important. Overall, we could not conclude that the underweight were less healthy than individuals in the other BMI categories. We cannot therefore recommend that the underweight should be excluded from analyses that examine the effects of obesity on mortality.

source: Social Epidemiology Unit, Division of Health Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia.

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