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In 1980, a significant segment of the US population was already overweight or obese, but obesity standards did not exist. Therefore, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) held the Workshop on Body Weight, Health and Longevity to correct the deficiency so that data could be improved. The workshop concluded:
In the United States, the weight associated with the greatest longevity tends to be below the average weight of the population under consideration, if such weights are not associated with a history of significant medical impairment. Overweight persons tend to die sooner than average-weight persons, especially those who are overweight at younger ages. The effect of being overweight on mortality is delayed and may not be seen in short-term studies. Cigarette smoking is a potential confounder of the relationship between obesity and mortality. Studies on body weight, morbidity, and mortality must be interpreted with careful attention to the definitions of obesity or relative weight used, preexisting morbid conditions, the length of follow-up, and confounders in the analysis. The terminology of body weight standards should be defined more precisely and cited appropriately. An appropriate database relating body weight by sex, age, and possibly frame size to morbidity and mortality should be developed to permit the preparation of reference tables for defining the desirable range of body weight based on morbidity and mortality statistics.1
Based on body mass index (BMI), 1.5 billion people are overweight (BMI≥25.0 kg/m2) and 500 million of them are classified as obese (BMI≥30 kg/m2).2–3 Since 1980 there have been many studies on the causes and management of obesity including behavioural studies, physical activity studies, nutritional studies ranging from high-protein low-carbohydrate low-fat, high-carbohydrate low-calorie diets and drugs for the treatment of obesity, yet despite all these efforts the US population continues to increase its weight and similar …
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