When it comes to our weight, is there a “sweet spot” for heart health?
A large prospective study in the European Heart Journal collected data on almost 300,000 healthy men and women ages 40 to 69 and followed them for an average of five years. Researchers measured obesity in five ways: body mass index, waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, waist-to-height ratio and percentage body fat mass.
They found that a B.M.I. lower than 18.5 was associated with a higher risk for cardiovascular disease, but the association almost disappeared in people who were nonsmokers or had other diseases. The lowest risk was associated with a B.M.I. between 22 and 23. Beyond that, the risk of cardiovascular disease increased with B.M.I.
With the four other measures of adiposity, the associations with cardiovascular disease risk were consistent even after controlling for other factors: As those measures increased, so did the risk for cardiovascular disease.