In a new study, researchers found that to older people, obesity could mean fewer years of ‘healthy life’.
Obese seniors may have fewer years of remaining life without limits in physical function.
The research was done by a team from Duke-NUS Medical School.
Previous research has shown that in older adults, physical function and the ability to perform daily activities are very important indicators of overall health.
In the current study, the team examined whether older adults with pre-obesity and obesity have the same or fewer years of healthy life compared with people with normal weight.
They analyzed data from a national longitudinal survey of 3,452 Singaporean adults over the age of 60.
limitation in physical function was defined as difficulty in completing any of nine tasks involving the arms and legs.
This included walking 200-300 meters, climbing 10 steps without resting, and raising their hands above their head.
limitation in daily activities was defined as difficulty in six basic activities, such as bathing, dressing, eating, doing housework, managing their medications, and taking public transportation.
The team found that at age 60, adults with obesity may have 6 more years of remaining life with limitation in physical function.
They also may have 5 fewer years of remaining life without this limitation compared with people with a healthy weight.
In addition, these people may have 3.5 more years of remaining life with limitation in daily activity and 3.5 fewer years of remaining life without this limitation.
The findings suggest that obesity could be particularly harmful to older people and greatly decrease their quality of life.
The team suggests that health systems, social, and community services in aging populations need to continue focusing on promoting normal weight as well as maintaining the physical abilities of older adults.
One author of the study is Rahul Malhotra, an assistant professor at the health services and systems research program.
The study is published in the International Journal of Obesity.
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