Research: Weight change may increase risk of mortality.


Weight change may increase the risk of mortality in metabolically challenged adults.

Obesity on Scale

Obesity on Scale

Obesity is directly tied to multiple metabolic abnormalities.  Not only is weight gain tied to these metabolic abnormalities, but it is also tied to an increase in morbidity and mortality from the diseases associated with these metabolic abnormalities.  These disorders increase in prevalence as we age and it is expected that older adults with metabolic abnormalities may benefit from weight loss.  The problem is that to this date, data on this population are limited.  You would suspect that weight loss would help the metabolic challenge and thus, lower the risk of morbidity and mortality.  

A new research observational study was completed in 2018 to assess the effect of obesity and weight change on mortality risk in older adults with metabolic abnormalities[1].  The research was performed in China on over 36oo Chinese older adults aged 60 to 90 years who had metabolic abnormalities.  The median follow-up period in which weight change was calculated was 37 months during data collection which occurred from 2000 to 2014.  During the study, 503 all-cause deaths and 235 cardiovascular disease deaths occurred.  The death rate was lowest in overweight participants and in the participants with weight stability.  Obesity was not significantly associated with mortality risk.  Relative to weight stability, the risks of mortality significantly increases with the increase of weight loss or weight gain.   

The bottom line:  This result did not end as expected.  The researchers found a protective effect of being overweight and limited to no effect of being obese on death was not found.  I would have expected that weight loss would reduce morbidity and mortality.  The mortality risk increased with the increase of weight loss or weight gain, regardless of body weight levels at baseline.  These findings suggest that maintaining a stable weight may be the best choice in older adults with metabolic abnormalities.  The findings are not surprising.  More research is clearly needed but use it as motivation to maintain your weight.  


S.-Y. Dong et al., “Obesity, weight change, and mortality in older adults with metabolic abnormalities,” N, May 2018 [Online]. Available: 10.1016/j.numecd.2018.04.011″ target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>
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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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