LIBERTY, Mo. -- Obese people are more likely to have type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease -- conditions that cut lives short. But a new review of studies finds underweight people are even a little more likely to die early than obese ones.
Dr. Robert Huster of Liberty is a director of the American Board of Obesity Medicine. He says common causes of being underweight include alcoholism, drug abuse and smoking.
"If we have someone who has an eating disorder, then their weight is markedly underweight. These are all conditions which affect their overall health," said the doctor, who added that those problems can lead to early death.
But Dr. Huster cautions against putting too much stock in the research. It looked only at BMI or Body Mass Index which is a measurement of weight and height. Some people who are obese on the BMI chart are really very fit.
"For example, if we're dealing with an athlete, his BMI will be very elevated, but he has a very low fat mass," said the doctor.
And some people who are underweight on the BMI chart are very fit, and may not be at higher risk of early death.
"A lower weight may be their normal weight. They may be very healthy," said Dr. Huster.
He adds that you really need to look at BMI along with other measurements such as muscle mass and waist size in getting an overall picture of health and your chances of early death.
The review of studies on weight and early death was published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.