, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 73-82

Obesity, disease, and functional limitation in later life

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Little is known about the effects of obesity late in life. Using data from the Longitudinal Study of Aging and the Assets and Health Dynamics of the Oldest Old Survey, this study finds an increased prevalence of obesity, over time, among those 70 and older. Obesity is related most strongly to limitations in activities of daily living (ADLs) for women and to activities related to mobility. One ADL, eating, has a negative association to obesity. Obesity is associated with an increased prevalence of arthritis, diabetes, and hypertension. These results are cross-sectional and are based on self-reports of height and weight; they must be interpreted cautiously.

Support for this research was provided by the National Institute on Aging (Grant R01 AG14424-02), and by the Aging Studies Program and the Center for Demography and Economics of Aging, Syracuse University. The author would like to acknowledge the advice and comments of Douglas Wolf, Toni Miles, and participants in the Brookdale Foundation’s annual fellowship retreat, and to thank Deborah Dougherty for her research assistance. Demography, Volume 37-Number 1, February 2000: 73-82