Obesity - Seniors
- Percentage of adults aged 65 and older estimated to be obese with a body mass index (BMI) of 30.0 or higher
Obesity is the percentage of the population aged 65 and older estimated to be obese with a body mass index (BMI) of 30.0 or higher. BMI, defined by CDC, equals weight in pounds divided by height in inches squared and then multiplied by 703. The CDC has a calculator for BMI. The senior ranks are based on self-reported weight and height data from CDC’s 2014 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.
The prevalence of obesity among adults aged 65 and older varies from 14.1% (95% CI, 12.1% to 16.2%) in Hawaii to more than 32% in Louisiana, Michigan and Ohio. Nationally, the percentage of seniors who are obese is 27.5%.
A systematic review comparing measured height and weight with self-reported height and weight found that self-report respondents tend to overestimate height and underestimate weight. The prevalence rates presented are likely an underestimation of the true prevalence of obesity among older adults.
Obesity is one of the greatest health threats in the United States, contributing significantly to such serious diseases as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, certain cancers, and poor general health. Obesity may also lead to disability due to excess weight on joints, and it is associated with shrinkage of the hippocampus; this shrinkage contributes to cognitive decline in older adults. Obese seniors experience more hospitalizations, emergency room visits, and use of outpatient health services than non-obese seniors, leading to higher health care costs.
Obesity is a leading cause of preventable death, causing an estimated 200,000 deaths annually in the United States. Between 1986 and 2006, the estimated percentage of adult deaths associated with overweight and obesity was 5.0% and 15.6% for black and white men, respectively and 26.8% and 21.7% for black and white women, respectively.
The direct medical costs for treating obesity and obesity-related health problems are extremely high. An estimated $147 billion was spent on obesity or obesity-related health issues in 2008. Obesity is more prevalent than smoking and is highly associated with chronic conditions and overall poor physical health, similar to smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
The causes of obesity are complex and include lifestyle, social and physical environment, genetics, and medical history. Older adults are more likely to have the poor diet and decreased physical activity that contribute to obesity. Since the 1980s energy intake has climbed and energy expenditure has declined, leading to a growing imbalance that closely mirrors obesity rates. Growing evidence illustrates the importance of the built environment and community design in promoting a healthy lifestyle.,
While obesity is associated with an increased risk of developing the above-mentioned health conditions, weight loss is associated with attenuating that risk. Successful interventions target a variety of populations through an assortment of strategies, from school-based prevention programs to programs for aging adults., Physical activity, healthy diet, supportive communities and social networks, and an environment that encourages exercise all play a role in reducing obesity in older adults. The CDC has useful resources for community-level interventions designed to lower obesity rates.
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