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U.S. News

About Two-Thirds of HIV-Positive People in U.S. Overweight, Obese, Study Says

October 4, 2007

About two-thirds of HIV-positive people in the U.S. might be overweight or obese, "mirroring" the total U.S. population, according to a study released Thursday at the 45th Annual Meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America in San Diego, the AP/Los Angeles Times reports.

For the study, Nancy Crum-Cianflone of TriService AIDS Clinical Consortium in San Diego and colleagues examined medical records of 663 HIV-positive patients at U.S. Navy hospitals in San Diego and Maryland. The researchers considered medication records, how long participants had been HIV-positive and whether participants had a history of diabetes or high blood pressure.

The study found that 63% of participants were either overweight or obese and that 3% were underweight. About 30% of participants who had progressed to AIDS were overweight or obese, the study found. The study did not find a connection between antiretroviral drugs and weight gain. Participants with weight gain put on an average of 13 pounds over 10 years, the study found. In addition, the study found that people who contracted HIV at younger ages, those who had been HIV-positive for a longer time and those who had high blood pressure were at a higher risk of becoming overweight or obese.

None of the participants had "wasting" syndrome, which is characterized by the uncontrollable loss of 10% of body weight, as well as fever and diarrhea. Wasting syndrome was common among people living with HIV/AIDS when the virus was first discovered, the AP/Times reports.

According to the AP/Times, the study's findings are "particularly striking" because many of the study participants were in the military or were military spouses, who tend to be in better physical shape than the general population. Earlier research had found that about 40% of HIV-positive people are overweight.

Some experts said there could be psychological reasons for the weight gain and that some HIV-positive people might be gaining weight to avoid wasting syndrome. In addition, HIV-positive people are living longer and might be prone to poor eating and exercise habits, the AP/Times reports.

"We used to worry that [HIV-positive people] would lose weight and become wasted," Crum-Cianflone said, adding, "Maybe we should redirect our concerns to making sure they are maintaining a healthy, normal weight." John Brooks -- an epidemiologist in HIV/AIDS prevention at CDC who did not participate in the study -- said, "It's very clear now that HIV is no longer a wasting disease in America" (Chang, AP/Los Angeles Times, 10/4).

Back to other news for October 2007

Reprinted with permission from You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for, a free service of the Kaiser Family Foundation, by The Advisory Board Company. © 2007 by The Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
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