Officials from the heart and lung institute lowered the threshold,
concluding that health risks can begin with a body mass index as low as
25. As body mass index levels go up, blood pressure and total cholesterol
levels also rise, increasing the risk of heart disease, diabetes and some
cancers, the researchers said. The guidelines are designed to give
patients and doctors ways to measure when a person's weight is hazardous.
They recommend that overweight people exercise and eat better to keep from
gaining additional weight. Diet drugs should be reserved for those with
body mass indexes of 30 or over, or people mass indexes of 27 but with
other risk factors such as diabetes or high blood pressure, the
researchers said. In addition to measuring body mass index, the
guidelines advise doctors to measure their patients' waist circumference,
a measurement closely associated with the amount of abdominal fat and
another predictor of disease risk.
A waist circumference of more than 40 inches in men and more than 35
inches in women indicates an increased risk in people who have a body mass
index of between 25 to 34.9, the researchers say. To determine body mass
index, divide body weight (in kilograms) by height (in meters) squared. A
kilogram equals 2.2 pounds. A meter is 3.28 feet or about 39 inches.
Sreenivasarao Vepachedu, 06/04/98
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