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  • Weight loss or gain reduces the quality of life in older people

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
    Thursday, July 29, 2010 8:31 am Email this article
    Both weight loss and weight gain are associated with a reduction in the quality of life of older individuals according to recent study from a University in Madrid, Spain. Weight gain lowers quality of life; weight loss associated with emotional and mental problems

    Weight gain was associated with a reduction in half the health-related quality-of-life scales, while weight loss was associated with worse scores in emotional and mental health status.

    Conclusion: Weight change associated with lower quality of life in older people

    “Weight change is associated with worse [health-related quality-of-life] among the older adults, principally women,” the authors concluded.

    “From the stance of [health-related quality-of-life], it is desirable to prevent weight gain, especially among the obese, and weight loss, especially among the nonobese.”

    Subjects: 2364 people 60 or older

    The study involved 2364 people 60-years-of-age or older who were studied in 2001 and again in 2003.

    Comments: No distinction between intentional and unintentional weight loss

    Comments: This study did not distinguish between intentional and unintentional weight loss, which I believe is very difficult to do anyway because people may be inclined to say that they intended to lose the weight, because most people would like to lose at least some weight, even if they weight loss was unintentional.

    I believe that in an overwhelming majority of cases that weight loss in older people is unintentional, caused by depression, perhaps as a result of the loss of a loved one or caused by worrying about an the possibility of an underlying disease.

    Comments: They confused the cause with the effect

    I believe that this study, like many others, has confused the horse with the cart, the chicken with the egg, the cause with the effect.

    I do not believe the weight loss causes emotional problems, but rather that certain emotional problems, such as depression, cause weight loss.

    Example: 78-year-old woman loses 25 lbs after moving away from her home

    Here is an example I recently heard about.

    A 78-year-old woman who I am related to, retired from running a Senior Citizens’ Center in Ohio, a job which she loved, and moved to California to escape the cold winters of the Ohio.

    However, within the first 6 months of being in California, she had lost 25 pounds.

    It wasn’t intentional, it was just that she no longer got to go work every day to a job that she loved. She no longer felt important, which she did when she was helping others at the Center. She no longer lived in the house that she had lived in for years; she now lived in a small condo because home prices are about 3 times higher in the area of California where she moved than they are in Ohio where she was from. And she no longer saw her friends each day that she had known for years.

    Do you think that her 25 pounds weight loss caused her to feel depressed? No. Of course not. Doesn’t it sound ridiculous to even suggest that?

    It seems obvious that it was not the weight loss that caused emotional problems, but the other way around. Her sense of loss, that is her emotional problems, resulted in her weight loss.

    Previous study: Weight loss after 50 doubles risk of dying after 65

    A previous study found that losing weight after the age of 50 doubled the risk of dying after the age of 65.

    However, this study suffered from the same problem—not distinguishing between intentional and unintentional weight loss.


    Leon-Munoz LM, Guallar-Castillon P, Banegas J, Gutierrez-Fisac JL, Lopez-Garcia E, Jimenez F, Rodriguez-Artalejo F. Changes in body weight and health-related quality-of-life in the older adult population. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2005 Aug 16.


    Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health
    School of Medicine
    Universidad Autonoma de Madrid
    Madrid, Spain

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