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J Am Geriatr Soc. 1999 Dec;47(12):1409-14.

Weight, weight change, mortality in a random sample of older community-dwelling women.

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Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore 21201-1596, USA.



To evaluate the relationship between measured weight, weight change, and 6-year mortality risk in a random sample of 648 community-dwelling women aged 65 and older from Baltimore, Maryland.


Data were collected using a standardized questionnaire and administered in person by trained interviewers. Questionnaires were completed annually from 1984 to 1986, and body weight was measured at each interview. Weight was defined as body mass index (BMI) of low (< 23 kg/m2), average (> or = 23 kg/m2 to < or = 28 kg/m2), and high (> 28 kg/m2). Four mutually exclusive categories of weight change of at least 4.5% in BMI over the three annual interviews were developed to describe all possible weight change patterns: weight gain, weight loss, no change, and weight cycling.


During the follow-up period, 106 women (16%) died. Women with low baseline BMI, regardless of weight change, and those who lost weight, regardless of baseline BMI had increased mortality risk. Women with average baseline BMI and weight loss had a very high mortality risk (hazard ratio (HR) 3.84, 95% Confidence interval (CI) 2.14-6.89). Women who weight cycled had increased mortality risk at low and high baseline weights, and a nonsignificant increased risk at average baseline weight (P = .069). Analyses were adjusted for age, education, smoking, alcohol usage, and pre-existing illness and included an interaction between weight change and baseline BMI.


These results suggest that white, older, community-dwelling women are at an increased risk of mortality if they are underweight, lose weight, or weight cycle.

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