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Contrary to earlier findings, excess body fat in elderly decreases life expectancy
Date:8/11/2011

isease. Therefore their death would not have been related to their normal weight, but rather to the disease that caused them to reach normal weight.

"When you control for confounding by disease-related weight loss, overweight and obesity remain a risk for persons over the age of 75," Dr. Singh said. "This suggests that elderly individuals of normal weight should continue to maintain their weight."

Researchers noted a difference between genders in that men had a higher sensitivity to body fat than women. Men started to experience a greater risk of mortality at a BMI of 22.3, while this risk did not appear for women until a BMI of 27.4. One possible reason for the difference between genders, Dr. Singh said, is that body fat is the primary source of estrogen in post-menopausal females, and a minimum level of estrogen in those years can be protective against heart disease and hip fractures.

"This is not to say that extra weight is good for women over 75," Dr. Singh said, "but rather that the negative effects of extra weight in women over 75 appear at a higher weight than in males."

The study population itself is unique in that all were Seventh-day Adventists, who, because of church recommendations, are lifelong non-smokers, consume little if any alcohol, are more physically active, and consume less meat than the general population. This means those who maintained a lower BMI did so intentionally with healthy lifestyle choices rather than as a result of smoking for weight control or as a result of poverty-related factors. Dr. Singh said further studies are needed to understand the positive and negative effects of lifestyle patterns that help individuals maintain low body weight over long periods of time.


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Contact: Heather Reifsnyder
hreifsnyder@llu.edu
909-558-1000 x42932
Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center
Source:Eurekalert

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