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Obesity History and Daily Patterns of Physical Activity at Age 60-64 Years: Findings from the MRC National Survey of Health and Development

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Rachel CooperORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America.Background The aim of this study was to investigate associations of current body mass index (BMI) and obesity history with daily patterns of physical activity. Methods At age 60-64, participants from a British birth cohort study wore accelerometers for 5 days. Accelerometry counts were log-transformed and mean log-counts were used to derive a summary variable indicating total daily log-activity counts. Among those with complete data (n = 1,388) the associations of current BMI and age of first obesity were examined with: (a) total daily log-activity counts and (b) total log-activity counts in four segments of the day. Results Higher current BMI and younger age at obesity were strongly associated with lower levels of total daily activity at age 60-64 even after adjustment for sex, socioeconomic factors, and health status. The fully-adjusted mean difference in total daily log-activity counts was ' '581.7 (95% confidence interval: ' '757.2, ' '406.3) when comparing BMI ≥35 kg/m 2 with <25 kg/m 2, representing an 18.4% difference. Participants who had been obese since early adulthood had the lowest levels of activity (mean difference in total daily log-activity counts was ' '413.1 (' '638.1, ' '188.2) when comparing those who were obese by age 26 or 36 with those who were never obese, representing a 13.1% difference). Conclusions Obese older adults may require targeted interventions and additional support to improve their daily activity levels. As younger generations with greater lifetime exposure to obesity reach old age the proportion of adults achieving sufficient levels of activity to realize its associated health benefits is likely to decline.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Cooper R, Huang L, Hardy R, Crainiceanu A, Harris T, Schrack JA, Crainiceanu C, Kuh D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences

Year: 2017

Volume: 72

Issue: 10

Pages: 1424-1430

Print publication date: 01/10/2017

Online publication date: 18/02/2017

Acceptance date: 13/12/2016

Date deposited: 20/01/2022

ISSN (print): 1079-5006

ISSN (electronic): 1758-535X

Publisher: Oxford University Press


DOI: 10.1093/gerona/glw331

PubMed id: 28329086


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Funder referenceFunder name
MRC National Survey of Health and Development is funded by the UK Medical Research Council.
R.C., R.H., and D.K. are supported by the UK Medical Research Council (Programme codes: MC_UU_12019/1, MC_UU_12019/2, and MC_UU_12019/4).