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Mid-life obesity cuts women's lifespan

October 1, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Obese women in their 50s may be decreasing their life expectancy by almost 80 percent, according to a new study released Wednesday.Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women's Hospital followed more than 17,000 healthy female nurses from 1976 to 2000. The average age was 50. The women's weight and other health changes were monitored every two years during that time.

The study found that the higher a woman's body mass index (BMI), the lower her chances were for survival.

Researchers also concluded that women who were lean at mid-life were the most likely to be in good mental and physical health after the age of 70.

A BMI between 19 and 25 is considered healthy, 25 to 30 is overweight and people with a BMI higher than 30 are considered medically obese.

The study accounted for mitigating factors including smoking and diet.

It is published in the medical journal BMJ.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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