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Evidence Ties Obesity to Disability in Older Women

Studies found higher risks for heart disease, mobility problems and early death

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These findings, while focused on women, should also give men pause, Rillamas-Sun said.

"I do expect that these findings would be similar in men," she said, noting that her study was modeled on a Honolulu-based heart and aging study, which looked at Japanese-American men. "In that study, they showed that men who were leaner in midlife were more likely to survive to late-age and be healthy."

In the second new study, Danish researchers reviewed the health data of nearly 72,000 people to determine the effects of overweight and obesity on heart health.

The investigators found that people who are overweight or obese have a higher risk of heart attack or heart disease even if they do not have other metabolic syndrome risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or type 2 diabetes.

In people without metabolic syndrome, heart attack risk increased 26 percent if they were overweight and 88 percent if they were obese, the researchers said. Obese people without metabolic syndrome also had a 45 percent increased risk of heart disease.

These findings show it is never too late to lose weight, Rillamas-Sun said.

"Obesity, even in older ages as this study shows, is a risk factor for numerous negative health outcomes," she said. "There are weight-loss interventions that have been shown to be effective for older populations, and older adults who have lost weight have been shown to have improvements in their health."

APHA's Benjamin agreed, noting that losing weight can help control diabetes, improve arthritis pain, boost heart health and make a person better able to recuperate from knee or hip replacement surgery.

"This study emphasizes the importance of maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding excessive weight gain after menopause or in your late mid-life. By doing this, you will improve your chances, not only of living longer, but of being healthy and ambulatory in late-age," Rillamas-Sun concluded.

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