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Cardiovascular health: a study warns of the risk linked to excessive variations in BMI

  • March 25, 2024
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Myocardial infarctionstroke… Every year, cardiovascular illnesses are the leading cause of death in the world, estimates the World Health Organization (WHO), which emphasizes that this represents 31% of global mortality. If certain risk factors such as smoking, physical inactivity or overweight are well documented, others are less known and could also be the cause of adverse cardiovascular events.

Indeed, researchers from Emory University in Atlanta, United States, questioned the consequences of variation in BMI throughout life. According to them, a highly variable body mass index (BMI) is associated with adverse cardiovascular events. Their results are published in the magazine JAMA Network Open: Cardiology.

A highly variable BMI would increase the risk of adverse cardiovascular events

First of all, it should be remembered that BMI is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as “a simple measure of weight for height commonly used to estimate overweight and obesity”. The latter is calculated by dividing your weight (in kilograms) by your height squared. Here is our online tool to calculate it.

To arrive at these conclusions, the researchers analyzed the results of two studies, bringing together a total of 157,410 individuals. The first study was called the Million Veteran Program and took place from 2011 to 2018. The second consisted of participants from the UK Biobank, enrolled between 2006 and 2010. Information on changes in BMI as well as status health and the occurrence of adverse cardiovascular events were collected. The authors took into account certain factors such as genetics, age, sex, smoking or even diabetes. Average follow-up was approximately four years.

Researchers noted that highly variable body mass index (BMI) was an important risk marker associated with adverse cardiovascular events. These results were consistent in the two panels studied.

A highly variable BMI could lead to excessive accumulation of visceral fat

Currently, “the mechanisms underlying the association between BMI variation and adverse cardiovascular events remain unclear”, recognize the researchers. However, several hypotheses have been put forward. A previous study, cited by the researchers and carried out on an animal model, estimated that a very variable BMI was associated with an excessive accumulation of visceral fat. Researchers also believe that excessive weight changes could increase body fat.

Also, researchers believe that it is “possible that the change in weight or BMI is correlated with dietary and psychosocial factors that predispose the individual to cardiovascular events”. LResearchers call for future studies “focused on understanding metabolic disorders associated with BMI variation and adverse cardiovascular events”.

Sources :

  • Long-Term Body Mass Index Variability and Adverse Cardiovascular Outcomes – JAMA Network Open: Cardiology
  • WHO – Main benchmarks on obesity and overweight
author avatar
Louis Tardy