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Research news: Obesity does not predict decline in physical functioning in 90-year-old people

General or abdominal obesity does not predict the development of mobility disability or activities of daily living disbaility in nonagenarians, i.e., in 90-year-old people. This was found in a study published by the University of Tampere and the Gerontology Research Center.

Previous studies have shown that among younger old people, obesity is a risk factor for a decline in physical functioning. However, there is only scarce data on the association between obesity and physical functioning among the oldest old, i.e., people aged 85 years and older who are the fastest growing segment of population in the developed countries.

The study population (291 women and 134 men) consisted of 90-year-old persons who participated in the Vitality 90+ Study. All the participants in this study were disability-free at the beginning of the study. Incident mobility and activities of daily living disability was followed-up on median 3.6 years (range 0.6–7.8 years). Body mass index was used as a measure for general obesity and waist circumference as a measure for abdominal obesity.

–          If one has reached the age of 90 years and is functioning well, extra weight does not seem to predict a decline in physical functioning, says doctoral student Inna Lisko from the University of Tampere.

–          In general, the results of the study emphasize risks associated with low weight. There may be different diseases and unsufficient nutrition on the background affecting the weight. Weight surveillance among the very old is important, says Lisko.

Inna Lisko had her doctoral defense in the University of Tampere on the 7th of April 2017.

Additional information:

Doctoral student Inna Lisko: +358 40 850 2241,

Lisko I, Tiainen K, Raitanen J, Jylhävä J, Hurme M Hervonen A, Jylhä M, Stenholm S. Body mass index and waist circumference as predictors of disability in nonagenarians: The Vitality 90+ Study. The Journals of Gerontology. Series A, Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences. Epub 14 March 2017. doi:10.1093/gerona/glx032

Link to the original publication:

Link to the press release of the doctoral study:

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