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Obesity in the Elderly

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Objective: Clinical review of the epidemiology, morbidity, mortality, medical and economic costs of being overweight or obese; recommendations on obesity from the National Institutes of Health; and how these factors relate to the elderly.

Data Sources: Medline search was used to identify relevant articles. Additional references were found in review articles and consensus guidelines.

Study Selection: Fifty-nine articles were identified and 40 were selected based on findings related to geriatric patients or obesity overall. Studies done in the United States as well as in European populations were included.

Data Extraction: Data were abstracted per findings for: epidemiology of being overweight and obese for adults and elderly, mortality and morbidity of being overweight or obese, issues with weight loss in the elderly, changes in physiology with aging that may impact on weight, whether increased body mass index (BMI) is directly associated with mortality in the elderly, whether the National Institutes of Health guidelines for BMI in obesity should be applied to elderly persons, mortality associated with weight, and costs of obesity.

Data Synthesis: The main findings suggest that being underweight results in a higher mortality for elderly persons as compared with being overweight.

Conclusion: The primary conclusion is that it is still not yet defined if the elderly should be held to the NIH standards for “overweight” and “obesity.” More research is needed to determine if overweight and obese elderly benefit from weight loss measures or if they should be kept at their current weight.

Keywords: body mass index; elderly; geriatrics; morbidity; mortality; obesity

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2005

More about this publication?
  • The Consultant Pharmacist® is the official peer-reviewed journal of the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists. It is dedicated exclusively to the medication needs of the elderly in all settings, including adult day care, ambulatory care, assisted living, community, hospice, and nursing facilities. This award-winning journal is a member benefit of ASCP. Individuals who are not members and wish to receive The Consultant Pharmacist® will want to consider joining ASCP.
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