Risk of Earlier Death Linked to Waist Size

Obesity and a larger waist size in older women up the risk factor of death before age 85, as well as the chances for major chronic disease and a lack of mobility, according to a new study.

Researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, analyzed whether higher body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference (WC) in older women decreased their chances of living to age 85 without major disease or disability. A healthy weight BMI was 18.5 to less than 25, overweight was 25 to less than 30, and obese was 30 to greater than 40.

In the study, the experts analyzed 36,611 women from the Women’s Health Initiative who were an average 72 years old at the beginning of monitoring. Of the group, 19 percent were classified as healthy, 14.7 percent had chronic disease, 23.2 percent had non-chronic disease, 18.3 percent had a mobility disability (using crutches, a walker or a wheelchair or a limited ability to walk) and 24.8 percent died.

The study’s findings indicate that underweight women, as well as obese women, are more likely to die before the age of 85. Overweight and obese women had higher risks of non-chronic disease and mobility disability. A waist circumference of more than almost35 inches also was associated with a higher risk of early death, non-chronic disease and mobility disability. Black and Hispanic women had higher risks of non-chronic disease than white women.

The findings were published in JAMA Internal Medicine.



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