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Eur J Clin Nutr. 2001 Jun;55(6):482-92.

Body mass index, weight change and mortality in the elderly. A 15 y longitudinal population study of 70 y olds.

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Department of Geriatric Medicine, Göteborg University, Göteborg, Sweden.



To examine the relationship between body mass index (BMI) at age 70, weight change between age 70 and 75, and 15 y mortality.


Cohort study of 70-y-olds.


Geriatric Medicine Department, Göteborg University, Sweden.


A total of 2628 (1225 males and 1403 females) 70-y-olds examined in 1971--1981 in Gothenburg, Sweden.


The relative risks (RRs) for 15 y mortality were highest in the lowest BMI quintiles of males 1.20 (95% CI 0.96--1.51) and females 1.49 (95% CI 1.14--1.96). In non-smoking males, no significant differences were observed across the quintiles for 5, 10 and 15 y mortality. In non-smoking females, the highest RR (1.58, 95% CI 1.15--2.16) for 15 y mortality was in the lowest quintile. After exclusion of first 5 y death, no excess risks were found in males for following 5 and 10 y mortality across the quintiles. In females, a U-shaped relation was observed after such exclusions. BMI ranges with lowest 15 y mortality were 27--29 and 25--27 kg/m(2) in non-smoking males and females, respectively. A weight loss of > or = 10% between age 70 and 75 meant a significantly higher risk for subsequent 5 and 10 y mortality in both sexes relative to individuals with 'stable' weights.


Low BMI and weight loss are risk factors for mortality in the elderly and smoking habits did not significantly modify that relationship. The BMI ranges with lowest risks for 15 y mortality are relatively higher in elderly. Exclusion of early deaths from the analysis modified the weight-mortality relationship in elderly males but not in females.

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