A recent study finds that fears about the health risks of being somewhat overweight may be unwarranted for your older members. Researchers found that being mildly or moderately overweight was not a risk factor for death from any cause in older men and women.
Harlan Krumholz of Yale University, along with a team of researchers, analyzed federal guidelines for overweightness and obesity as they apply to people ages 65 and older. According to the guidelines, people are considered overweight when they have a body mass index (BMI) of 25 to 29.9, and obesity is defined as having a BMI of 30 or more. And the ideal BMI should be within the range of 18.7 to 25, regardless of a person’s age. The guidelines also state that being overweight or obese is a major risk factor for illness and death.
When the researchers reviewed 13 studies to determine the association between BMI and mortality in the elderly, a BMI of 25 to 27 (considered mildly to moderately overweight) was not found to be a risk factor for death. In the Archives of Internal Medicine (161: 1194-1203, 2001), Krumholz says, “Most studies failed to show a significant association between high BMI and increased mortality, despite the large number of participants. A little excess weight does not appear to be a problem for older patients.” Krumholz does note that a BMI of 28 or more is associated with an increased risk of death for people of all ages, including older adults.
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