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Obesity does not increase the risk of death in people over 70-years-old
Tuesday, August 10, 2004 11:24 am Email this article
Being underweight increases the risk of dying in people over the age of 70-years-old, however, being obese does not according to a muticultural study. Underweight elderly were 45% more likely to die
Older people who were underweight were 45 percent more likely to die during a seven year follow-up than people with a healthy BMI.
Underweight BMI less than 20; Healthy weight BMI 20-25
Underweight was defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of less than 20, whereas healthy weight was defined as having a BMI of 20-25.
Overweight elderly were 16% more likely to die
Older people who were overweight, defined as having a BMI of 25-30, were 16 percent more likely to die during the seven year follow-up than people with a healthy BMI.
Obese elderly were 3% less likely to die
And finally, older people who were obese, defined as having a BMI of 30 or more, were 3 percent less likely to die during the seven year follow-up than people with a healthy BMI.
The authors of the study noted that obesity does not increase the risk of death in th elderly.
“Body fatness, following adjustment for age at enrolment, gender, smoking, and general health status, was not found to be a significant predictor of 7-year survival,” they concluded.
Similar conclusions to other studies
These conclusions are are the same as a 1998 study which found that being “overweight does not seem to be a risk factor for 5-year mortality in this age group. Rather, the risks associated with significant weight loss should be the primary concern.”
The study followed 785 people aged 70 years and over, from long-lived cultures namely Japanese in Japan, Swedes in Sweden, Anglo-Celtics in Australia, and Greeks in Greece and Australia.
This was part of a study called the “Food Habits in Later Life” started in 1987 by The International Union of Nutritional Sciences (IUNS) subcommittee on Nutrition and Ageing, in conjunction with the World Health Organization (WHO) global program for the elderly to test beliefs about the relation to food habits, health status and social variables in the elderly.
A BMI Table can be found here.
Blackberry I, Kouris-Blazos A, Wahlqvist M, Steen B, Lukito W, Horie Y. Body mass index is not a significant predictor of survival amongst older people. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2004, 13(Suppl):S137.
AUTHOR’S CONTACT INFORMATION
Public Health Division
National Ageing Research Institute
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