A higher body mass index (BMI) may put you at risk for a variety of health problems, but heart attack is apparently not one of them, a new twin study revealed.
A person's BMI can be calculated through his/her height and weight. This measure has been found to be a good indicator of heart health, gallstones, high blood pressure and certain cancers, the National Institutes of Health said.
In the new report, however, researchers from Umeå University could not confirm any link between BMI and the risk for heart attack or death.
Umeå University experts examined pairs of Swedish identical twins and discovered that higher BMI does not increase the risk for heart attack, but it does up a person's chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
The study compared health outcomes of identical twins to rule out other genetic causes for disease, which provides a relatively fair view of the effects of high BMI or obesity, researchers said.
Swedish researchers analyzed records of 4,046 identical twins with different BMIs. The data were gathered between 1998 and 2003 for the country's national twin registry.
In groups of heavier twins with a mean BMI of 25.9, about 5 percent experienced a heart attack while 13.6 percent died. In groups of leaner twins with a mean BMI of 23.9, about 15.6 percent died and 5.2 percent had a heart attack.
Furthermore, even among twins with BMI above 30, the prevalence of death and heart attack remained the same, researchers said.
However, when it came to type 2 diabetes, statistics were different. The risk of developing type 2 diabetes was almost twice as high for heavy twins. The chances that a heavier twin would develop type 2 diabetes even grew based on the difference in BMI between siblings.
Dr. Peter Nordström, lead author of the study, says the findings indicate that there is a strong link between high BMI and type 2 diabetes.
He says this has led them to conclude that interventions focused on reducing BMI can be more effective against diabetes than when it comes to lowering the risk of mortality or heart attacks.
Because Nordström and colleagues looked exclusively at identical twins and discovered no difference in mortality or heart attack risk, authors suggest that genetic factors may explain why previous studies have shown a connection between these risks and higher BMI.
On the other hand, the findings support and reaffirm how strongly connected higher BMI is to the progression of type 2 diabetes.
Details of the study are published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
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