Previous studies have shown that functional limitations amongst older adults were often linked to changes in body weight. Most research focused narrowly on the upper-tier of weight, examining the relationship between obesity and physical functioning. But, do underweight older adults share a similar increased risk? Research from the Canadian Community Health Survey indicates that both obese and underweight senior citizens run the greatest risk of disability and loss of function. This study used a sample of over 21,000+ adults ages 65 years and older.
The researchers considered data including body mass index, a measure of daily living activities, and various demographics (age, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, etc.). The U-shaped relationship between body weight and disability in old age has important wellness implications. Weight loss is a positive thing for older adults who are obese; however, it proves to be too narrow a focus for individuals of normal or underweight. As the population continues to get older each year, the rate of functional problems increases, making physical wellness an even more prominent concern. Source: Gadalla, T. 2010. Relative body weight and disability in older adults: Results from a national survey. Journal of Aging and Health 22: 403-418.