WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Until now, medical experts have tagged high cholesterol or diabetes as the source of health problems for people who are overweight. But a new study shows that being overweight can in and of itself increase a person's risk for death, heart attack and stroke.
The study, published in Annals of Internal Medicine, says there is no such thing as "benign obesity," or harmless obesity.
Dr. Robert Rosenson of Mt. Sinai Hospital told CBS News the reason for that is still unknown.
"There is something we're not able to measure, perhaps at the sub cellular level or genetic level, that is contributing to a higher risk," Rosenson said.
The researchers compared obese adults to healthy-weight adults for rates of mortality and cardiovascular problems. They found the overweight adults were at a greater risk for both -- even if they were otherwise healthy.
That means that a high BMI is not a benign condition, even without other metabolic problems.