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Weight Gain Early in Life Leads to Physical Disabilities
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Carrying extra weight earlier in life increases the risk of developing problems with mobility in old age, even if the weight is eventually lost.
“In both men and women, being overweight or obese put them at greater risk of developing mobility limitations in old age, and the longer they had been overweight or obese, the greater the risk," said lead investigator Denise Houston, Ph.D., R.D., an assistant professor of gerontology at the School of Medicine and an expert on aging and nutrition. "We also found that, if you were of normal weight in old age but had previously been overweight or obese, you were at greater risk for mobility limitations."
Houston added that dropping weight later in life can lead to problems with mobility because weight loss later in life is usually involuntary and the result of an underlying chronic condition.
The researchers defined mobility limitation as difficulty walking a quarter-mile or climbing 10 steps. They analyzed information from 2,845 participants who were on average 74 years old. Participants reported no problems with mobility at the beginning of the study. Information on new mobility limitations was collected every six months over seven years of follow-up.
Using participants' body mass index (BMI), a measurement equal to a person's weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared, at different age intervals, the researchers found that women who were overweight or obese (BMI of 25 or greater) from their mid-20s to their 70s were nearly three times more likely to develop mobility limitations than women who were normal weight throughout. The risk for men was slightly less – they were about 1.6 times more likely to develop mobility limitations, according to the study.
Carrying extra weight can strain joints, hinder exercise and lead to chronic conditions, such as diabetes, arthritis and heart disease, that are directly related to the development of mobility limitations, Houston said.
The results are significant, Houston added, because the elderly population in the United States is growing, and is expected to double by the year 2030 to about 20 percent.
REHACARE.de; Source: Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center
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