New research gives another incentive for individuals to maintain a healthy weight. The study shows a higher body mass index in middle age is associated with a poorer quality of life in older age.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, there have been dramatic improvements in life expectancy. Meanwhile, the prevalence of overweight and obesity among adults has continued to increase. Will this excess weight have an impact on individuals as they age? Researchers conducted a study to determine how weight impacts the future health of individuals.
For the study, researchers evaluated how body mass index (BMI) in middle age is related to health-related quality of life in older age. BMI is calculated as weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters. The study included 6,766 middle-aged men and women who did not have diabetes or heart disease. The participants were part of another study between 1967 and 1973 when they were between 36 and 64 years old. Researchers had the participants complete a questionnaire 26 years later when they were 65 years or older. Study authors then compared the BMI and how it affected the answers to several health status questions.
The study shows men and women with a higher BMI report a poorer quality of life in older age. Researchers say those who had a normal weight in middle age have the best quality of life. Quality of life measures include physical, mental and social well-being. Those who were obese (a BMI greater than 30) in middle age report the worst quality of life outcomes.
Researchers say this study demonstrates the adverse impact of high BMI in middle age on future health-related quality of life factors. Study authors write, "With much of the U.S. population middle-aged and older facing trends of increasing obesity and overweight, preventive measures are urgently required to lessen future individual and societal burden of disease, disability, cost of care and impaired quality of life associated with excess weight." Researchers say, in the long-term, strategies to emphasize weight reduction from an early age are needed.