Increased mortality in those overweight or underweight was recognized by Hippocrates over two millennia ago.1 However, before mortality statistics relating to build were first published in the USA in 1903,2 underweight people were considered to be poorer insurance risks than those who were overweight, mainly because of the high death rate from tuberculosis. The influence of overweight and obesity on morbidity and mortality was largely ignored, and obesity was not considered to be an important insurance risk. Publication of mortality statistics and the major American Build studies during the 20th century, coupled with the rising prevalence of obesity in many countries and the virtual elimination of tuberculosis, has served to refocus the mortality and morbidity risk onto that associated with increased body fat.


Cholesterol Obesity Osteoporosis Lipase Tuberculosis 


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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2006

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  • Kevin Somerville

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