A new study says that although women live longer than men, they suffer more from disability that stems chiefly from obesity and arthritis.
In the study, researchers found that the most prevalent cause of suffering and disability in senior women is arthritis and obesity, leading to two and a half times more suffering compared to men in the same age group.
They also found that higher rates of obesity and arthritis among these women explained up to 48 percent of the gender gap in disability, above all other common chronic health conditions.
"While women tend to live longer than men, this study shows that they are at greater risk of living with disability and much of the excess disability is attributable to higher rates of obesity and arthritis," said Heather Whitson, M.D., assistant professor of medicine and lead investigator of the study presented today at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Geriatrics Society.
"This is important because it suggests that women's tendency to pack on extra pounds in their child-bearing and peri-menopausal years translates into loss of independence in their old age," Whitson added.
Researchers said the study, which included 5,888 people over 65, is the first to isolate the impact of specific chronic health conditions on the difference in disability rates between older men and women.