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Health Promot Chronic Dis Prev Can. 2018 Dec;38(12):437-444. doi: 10.24095/hpcdp.38.12.01.

Obesity and healthy aging: social, functional and mental well-being among older Canadians.

[Article in English, French; Abstract available in French from the publisher]

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Public Health Agency of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.


in English, French


Canadians are living longer than before, and a large proportion of them are living with obesity. The present study sought to describe how older participants in the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA) who are living with obesity are aging, through an examination of measures of social, functional and mental well-being.


We used data from the first wave of the CLSA for people aged 55 to 85 years in this study. We used descriptive statistics to describe characteristics of this population and adjusted generalized logistic models to assess measures of social, functional and mental well-being among obese participants (body mass index ≥ 30 kg/m2) relative to non-obese participants. Findings are presented separately for females and males.


More than half of the participants reported living with a low personal income (less than $50 000); females were particularly affected. Less than half of the participants were obese; those who were had higher odds of multimorbidity than those who were not living with obesity (among those aged 55-64 years: odds ratio [OR] 2.7, 95% CI: 2.0-3.5 males; OR 2.8, 95% CI: 2.2-2.5 females). Low social participation was associated with obesity among older female participants, but not males. Physical functioning issues and impairments in activities of daily living were strongly associated with obesity for both females and males. While happiness and life satisfaction were not associated with obesity status, older females living with obesity reported negative impressions of whether their aging was healthy.


The odds of multimorbidity were higher among participants who were obese, relative to those who were not. Obese female participants tended to have a negative perception of whether they were aging healthily and had lower odds of involvement in social activities, while both sexes reported impairments in functional health. The associations we observed, independent of multimorbidity in older age, highlight areas where healthy aging initiatives may be merited.


happiness; healthy aging; mental health; multimorbidity; obesity; social participation

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