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The relations of body composition and adiposity measures to ill health and physical disability in elderly men

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Sheena Ramsay


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Although body build is related to disability and mortality in older people, the independent contributions of adiposity and lean mass are not fully defined. The authors examined the relations of body composition (fat mass index, fat-free mass index) and adiposity (body mass index, waist circumference) to ill health and physical disability in a cross-sectional study of 4,252 British men aged 60-79 years in 1998-2000. Increased body mass index, waist circumference, and fat mass index were associated with increased prevalence of cardiovascular disease, overall ill health, and disability. Adjusted odds ratios of cardiovascular disease (top vs. bottom fifth) were 1.58 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.23, 2.03) for fat mass index, 1.45 (95% CI: 1.14, 1.86) for body mass index, and 1.27 (95% CI: 0.99, 1.62) for waist circumference. For overall "poor/fair" health, the corresponding odds ratios were 1.71 (95% CI: 1.33, 2.21), 1.49 (95% CI: 1.17, 1.90), and 1.64 (95% CI: 1.28, 2.09) and, for mobility limitation, they were 1.56 (95% CI: 1.17, 2.06), 1.96 (95% CI: 1.48, 2.56), and 1.88 (95% CI: 1.42, 2.49). A high fat-free mass index was associated with only a decreased prevalence of respiratory problems and cancer (odds ratios = 0.45 (95% CI: 0.33, 0.62) and 0.62 (95% CI: 0.42, 0.94), respectively). Body fatness, not fat-free mass, is associated with cardiovascular disease and disability in older men. Simple measures of overweight, such as body mass index and waist circumference, are good indicators of the likelihood of morbidity in older men. Prevention of weight gain with increasing age is likely to reduce morbidity and disability among older men. Copyright © 2006 by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Ramsay SE, Whincup PH, Shaper AG, Wannamethee SG

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: American Journal of Epidemiology

Year: 2006

Volume: 164

Issue: 5

Pages: 459-469

Print publication date: 01/09/2006

Online publication date: 03/07/2006

ISSN (print): 0002-9262

ISSN (electronic): 1476-6256

Publisher: Oxford University Press


DOI: 10.1093/aje/kwj217

PubMed id: 16818465


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