Objective: The aim of this longitudinal study is to examine the relationship between weight loss from maximum body weight, body mass index (BMI), and mortality in a nationally representative sample of men and women.
Design: Longitudinal cohort study.
Subjects: In all, 6117 whites, blacks, and Mexican-Americans 50 years and over at baseline who survived at least 3 years of follow-up, from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey Linked Mortality Files (1988-1994 with passive mortality follow-up through 2000), were included.
Measurements: Measured body weight and self-reported maximum body weight obtained at baseline. Weight loss (maximum body weight minus baseline weight) was categorized as <5%, 5-<15%, and >or=15%. Maximum BMI (reported maximum weight (kg)/measured baseline height (m)(2)) was categorized as healthy weight (18.5-24.9), overweight (25.0-29.9), and obese (>or=30.0).
Results: In all, 1602 deaths were identified. After adjusting for age, race, smoking, health status, and preexisting illness, overweight men with weight loss of 15% or more, overweight women with weight loss of 5-<15%, and women in all BMI categories with weight loss of 15% or more were at increased risk of death from all causes compared with those in the same BMI category who lost <5%; hazard ratios ranged from 1.46 to 2.70. Weight loss of 5-<15% reduced risk of death from cardiovascular diseases among obese men.
Conclusions: Weight loss of 15% or more from maximum body weight is associated with increased risk of death from all causes among overweight men and among women regardless of maximum BMI.