No Evidence of Obesity Paradox in Stroke Patients

Researchers found no evidence of an obesity paradox in patients with stroke. Instead, they noted that strokes occurred at a significantly younger age in patients with a higher body mass index (BMI).

In the past, doctors have been unsure of how to advise obese, stroke patients due to existing reports of an obesity paradox—despite an individual’s obesity, he or she could better survive (or live longer) when encountering an illness than if the patient had normal body weight.

New Study Questions “Obesity Paradox”
Obesity Paradox Called into Question

“We found that previous reports of an ‘obesity paradox’ were basically the result of selection bias. Strokes associated with obesity turned out to be less severe than strokes associated with normal weight,” said Tom Olsen, MD, PhD, corresponding author of the study.

For the study, researchers accessed patient data for all stroke-related hospital admissions in Denmark between 2003 to 2012.

Of the 71,617 patients, 7878 (or 11%) died within the first month; 70% of these deaths were caused by a stroke.

BMI data was only available for 53,812 of the patients; of the patients with BMI information available, 9.7% were underweight, 39% were of normal weight, 34.5% were overweight, and 16.8% were obese.

Researchers found that BMI was inversely related to mean age at stroke onset.

Further, they noted that there was no difference in the risk for death by stroke in the first month between normal, overweight, or obese individuals.

The complete study is published in the June issue of JAMA Neurology.

-Michelle Canales

Dehlendorff C, Andersen KK, Olsen TS. Body mass index and death by stroke no obesity paradox. JAMA Neuro. 2014 Jun 2 [epub ahead of print] doi: 10.1001/jamaneurol.2014.1017