Indexed on: 23 May '07Published on: 23 May '07Published in: International Journal of Obesity
Although the association between current obesity and physical disability is well known, the cumulative effect of obesity is unknown. Using data from the Health, Aging and Body Composition study, we examined the association between weight history in young and middle adulthood and weight status in late adulthood with physical performance in late adulthood.Longitudinal cohort study.White and black men and women aged 70-79 years at study baseline (n=2803).Body mass index (BMI; kg/m(2)) was calculated using recalled height at age 25 and weight at age 25 and 50 and measured height and weight at ages 70-79. Physical performance at ages 70-79 was assessed using a short physical performance battery (SPPB) and a 400-m walk test.In this well-functioning cohort, approximately 24% of men and 8% of women reported being overweight or obese (BMI > or =25 kg/m(2)) at age 25, 51% of men and 37% of women reported being overweight or obese at age 50, and 69% of men and 66% of women were overweight or obese at ages 70-79. Men and women who were obese (BMI > or =30 kg/m(2)) at ages 25, 50 and 70-79 had significantly worse SPPB scores and 400-m walk times than those who were normal weight. Women who were overweight (BMI 25-29.9 kg/m(2)) at ages 25, 50 and 70-79 also had significantly worse physical performance. Furthermore, men and women who had a history of being overweight or obese at ages 25 or 50 had worse physical performance compared to those who were normal weight throughout or who were overweight or obese at ages 70-79 but not in midlife or earlier.Maintaining a healthy body weight throughout adulthood may play a role in preventing or delaying the onset of physical disability.