Often viewed as the first step to good health, weight loss can actually be a “death sentence” later in life.
A new study has found that healthy older people who lose significant weight are at greater risk of dying prematurely from cancer, cardiovascular disease and “other life-threatening conditions.”
A study by researchers at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, found that those who lost weight over the age of 65 were, on average, a third more likely to die within four years. Surprisingly, no association was found between being overweight and an increased risk of premature death.
At the start of the study, the association between weight loss and longevity was observed across all weights, and even those who were obese faced a greater risk of premature death if they lost 5% or more of their body weight.
Researchers believe it’s not the weight loss itself, but the cause of the weight loss that puts them at greater risk of death.
The study, published in the JAMA Open Network, analyzed data from more than 16,000 US and Australian patients aged 65 to 70 who had no underlying health problems or comorbidities such as dementia, cardiovascular disease, chronic disease . or disability, and also excluded those who were recently hospitalized, because hospitalized patients often lose weight due to illness.
The researchers used body weight and waist circumference measurements from participants in annual checkups between 2010 and 2014.
Contrary to experts’ predictions of weight loss, a 5% reduction in body weight resulted in an increased risk of all-cause mortality compared to those who maintained their weight.
Men who lost 5-10% of their body weight were 33% more likely to die earlier, and a loss of more than 10% resulted in a 289% increase in chance.
Women had a 25% higher risk of premature death after a loss of 5-10% of body weight and a 114% higher mortality rate for a loss of 10% or more.
The research team, led by Dr Munira Hussain of Monash University in Australia, did not observe whether the weight loss was intentional, such as due to a restricted diet, or unintentional, due to illness or other reasons.
Weight loss in the elderly is a concern due to the possibility of a disease or health condition.
The researchers write: “While it is generally accepted that weight loss may precede cancer diagnosis, in our study, weight loss also preceded an increase in mortality from cardiovascular disease and other causes. The latter case may include death from cancer.” diseases and other less common causes.
Dr. Munira explained that such underlying conditions can cause “decreased appetite due to inflammation and hormones.”
The study authors urged clinicians to “become more aware of the significant association with mortality from relatively simple weight loss.”
Earlier this year, the Global Obesity Federation released a disturbing report that in just 12 years more than half of the world’s population will be overweight or obese. According to the Mayo Clinic, obesity is linked to heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, digestive problems, and other complications.
Source: New York Post.
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