http://o.canada.com/health/skinnine...ds-underweight-at-highest-risk-of-early-death Underweight people die sooner than everyone else, even the obese, says new research that is expected to recharge debate over whether the risks of obesity are being overplayed. Toronto researchers who analyzed 51 studies on the links between body mass index and death from any cause found those categorized as underweight have the highest risk of a premature death. Adults who are underweight â€” with a BMI of less than 18.5 â€” have a 1.8 times higher risk of dying than those with a â€œnormalâ€ BMI of 18.5 to 24.9, the study found. By comparison, people classed as obese (a BMI of 30 to 34.9) were 1.2 times more likely to die during a minimum five years of follow-up than normal weight people. The risk of dying was 1.3 times higher for the severely obese â€” those with a BMI of 35 or more. Dr. Joel Ray, a physician-researcher, at Torontoâ€™s St. Michaelâ€™s Hospital. Lead author Dr. Joel Ray says there is no question the obesity problem is genuine and real but that public health angst over rising obesity rates also risks creating an â€œepidemicâ€ of underweight adults. â€œOur focus as a society has been on overweight, obese and very obese, and thereâ€™s no problem in our focus. Itâ€™s an important public health and individual health issue,â€ said Ray, a physician and researcher at St. Michaelâ€™s Hospital in Toronto. â€œBut in the process weâ€™ve neglected the influence of being underweight on mortality.â€ Campaigns aimed at curbing obesity are laudable, he said. â€œBut we also know that it also has the risk of potentially affecting people who are already sufficiently healthy in size, or who are so slightly overweight that itâ€™s irrelevant â€” their risk of dying or diabetes isnâ€™t important. â€œItâ€™s those individuals who become unintended victims of the campaign.â€ Underweight puts people at increased risk of diseases or conditions that can either make people very ill, or kill them, Ray said. They include lung disease, cardiovascular disease such as heart failure and falls and injuries from poor fitness and less muscle mass.