Maintaining a lean physique may be best for your overall health, but it won’t help you survive surgery. Patients with a body mass index that puts them in the normal to thin range “are at higher risk of death 30 days after surgery” compared with heavier people, George Stukenborg, a health professor at the University of Virginia, tells Reuters.com. His study found that normal to thin patients whose BMIs were less than 23.1 had almost three times the risk of dying within a month compared with obese patients whose BMIs were 35.3 or higher.
Researchers aren’t sure what the link is between low BMI and post-surgery complications, but it could be that thinner patients are more likely to be frail or malnourished than their overweight peers. In any case, Stukenborg says, a patient’s body mass is “something we should think more about” when planning operations and caring for recovering patients.