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Background: Increased body mass index (BMI) is known to be related to ischaemic heart disease (IHD) in populations where many are overweight (BMI ≥ 25 kg/m 2 ) or obese (BMI ≥ 30). Substantial uncertainty remains, however, about the relationship between BMI and IHD in populations with lower BMI levels. Methods: We examined the data from a population-based, prospective cohort study of 222 000 Chinese men aged 40-79. Relative and absolute risks of death from IHD by baseline BMI were calculated, standardized for age, smoking, and other potential confounding factors. Results: The mean baseline BMI was 21.7 kg/m 2 , and 1942 IHD deaths were recorded during 10 years of follow-up (6.5% of all such deaths). Among men without prior vascular diseases at baseline, there was a J-shaped association between BMI and IHD mortality. Above 20 kg/ m 2 there was a positive association of BMI with risk, with each 2 kg/m 2 higher in usual BMI associated with 12% (95% CI 6-19%, 2P - 0.0001) higher IHD mortality. Below this BMI range, however, the association appeared to be reversed, with risk ratios of 1.00, 1.09, and 1.15, respectively, for men with BMI 20-21.9, 18-19.9, and < 18 kg/ m 2 . The excess IHD risk observed at low BMI levels persisted after restricting analysis to never smokers or excluding the first 3 years of follow-up, and became about twice as great after allowing for blood pressure. Conclusions: Lower BMI is associated with lower IHD risk among people in the so-called normal range of BMI values (20-25 kg/m 2 ), but below that range the association may well be reversed. © The Author 2005; all rights reserved.

Original publication

DOI

10.1093/ije/dyi215

Type

Journal article

Journal

International Journal of Epidemiology

Publication Date

01/02/2006

Volume

35

Pages

141 - 150