A recent study from the University of Pittsburgh concluded that the health risks for women as a result of obesity have been underestimated. The largescale study followed 90,000 ethnically diverse American women for an average of 7 years. Weight, cardiovascular disease, and mortality rates were all analyzed. Researchers divided obesity levels into 3 categories: obesity 1 (body mass index [BMI] of 30 to 34.9), obesity 2 (BMI of 35 to 39.9), and obesity 3 (BMI of 40 or higher). Obesity 2 and 3, also known as severe obesity, are on the rise in the United States. Severe obesity quadrupled from 1986 to 2000, when 2% of all American women were severely obese. Researchers determined that as the level of a woman's obesity increases, so does the severity of her health risks. The study, which appeared in the July 5, 2006 issue of the Journal of the American Heart Association, concludes that "extremely obese women were more likely to die over the average 7 years of follow-up than were women in other examined weight categories."
Ms. Farley is a freelance medical writer based in Wakefield, RI.