Importance  Estimates of the relative mortality risks associated with normal weight, overweight, and obesity may help to inform decision making in the clinical setting.
Objective  To perform a systematic review of reported hazard ratios (HRs) of all-cause mortality for overweight and obesity relative to normal weight in the general population.
Data Sources  PubMed and EMBASE electronic databases were searched through September 30, 2012, without language restrictions.
Study Selection  Articles that reported HRs for all-cause mortality using standard body mass index (BMI) categories from prospective studies of general populations of adults were selected by consensus among multiple reviewers. Studies were excluded that used nonstandard categories or that were limited to adolescents or to those with specific medical conditions or to those undergoing specific procedures. PubMed searches yielded 7034 articles, of which 141 (2.0%) were eligible. An EMBASE search yielded 2 additional articles. After eliminating overlap, 97 studies were retained for analysis, providing a combined sample size of more than 2.88 million individuals and more than 270 000 deaths.
Data Extraction  Data were extracted by 1 reviewer and then reviewed by 3 independent reviewers. We selected the most complex model available for the full sample and used a variety of sensitivity analyses to address issues of possible overadjustment (adjusted for factors in causal pathway) or underadjustment (not adjusted for at least age, sex, and smoking).
Results  Random-effects summary all-cause mortality HRs for overweight (BMI of 25-<30 0.88-1.01="" 0.91-0.96="" 0.94="" 0.95="" 1.12-1.25="" 1.18-1.41="" 1.18="" 1.29="" 18.5-="" 1="" 2="" 30-="" 3="" adequately="" adjusted.="" all="" and="" be="" calculated="" ci="" combined="" considered="" findings="" for="" grade="" grades="" height="" higher="" hrs="" limited="" measured.="" measured="" normal="" obesity.="" obesity="" of="" overweight="" p="" persisted="" rather="" relative="" self-reported="" studies="" summary="" tended="" than="" that="" the="" these="" to="" weight="" were="" when="" with="">Conclusions and Relevance  Relative to normal weight, both obesity (all grades) and grades 2 and 3 obesity were associated with significantly higher all-cause mortality. Grade 1 obesity overall was not associated with higher mortality, and overweight was associated with significantly lower all-cause mortality. The use of predefined standard BMI groupings can facilitate between-study comparisons.