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Put Down That Fork: Studies document hazards of obesity

Being overweight or obese in middle age hikes a person's risk of severe heart and kidney problems later in life, even in people whose blood pressure is normal, two new studies show. The reports provide empirical, if observational, evidence that carrying excess pounds causes long-term damage to the body's organ systems.

In one study, researchers analyzed lifestyle and health data—including weight—collected between 1967 and 1973 from adults in the Chicago area. Periodically until 2002, the scientists got medical updates or death information for about 18,000 of the participants who hadn't had heart disease or diabetes when they enrolled about 3 decades earlier. On the basis of their initial checkups, those people were classified as normal weight, overweight, or obese.

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