OBJECTIVE: The association of body mass index (BMI) and all-cause mortality is controversial, frequently referred to as a paradox. Whether the cause is metabolic factors or statistical biases is still controversial. We assessed the association of BMI and all-cause mortality considering a wide range of comorbidities and baseline mortality risk.
METHODS: Retrospective cohort study of Olmsted County residents with at least one BMI measurement between 2000-2005, clinical data in the electronic health record and minimum 8 year follow-up or death within this time. The cohort was categorized based on baseline mortality risk: Low, Medium, Medium-high, High and Very-high. All-cause mortality was assessed for BMI intervals of 5 and 0.5 Kg/m2.
RESULTS: Of 39,739 subjects (average age 52.6, range 18-89; 38.1% male) 11.86% died during 8-year follow-up. The 8-year all-cause mortality risk had a "U" shape with a flat nadir in all the risk groups. Extreme BMI showed higher risk (BMI <15 = 36.4%, 15 to <20 = 15.4% and ≥45 = 13.7%), while intermediate BMI categories showed a plateau between 10.6 and 12.5%. The increased risk attributed to baseline risk and comorbidities was more obvious than the risk based on BMI increase within the same risk groups.
CONCLUSIONS: There is a complex association between BMI and all-cause mortality when evaluated including comorbidities and baseline mortality risk. In general, comorbidities are better predictors of mortality risk except at extreme BMIs. In patients with no or few comorbidities, BMI seems to better define mortality risk. Aggressive management of comorbidities may provide better survival outcome for patients with body mass between normal and moderate obesity.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Funding: This research was supported by National Science Foundation grants IIS-1602198, IIS-1602394 and National Institutes of Health grant LM11972 (GS, MSS, PJC) https://www.nsf.gov/ funding https://www.nih.gov/grants-funding The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Copyright: © 2021 Li et al.
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