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Large waistlines are linked to increased mortality risk older people

25 June 2012 University of Gothenburg

Older people with large waistlines have a higher mortality rate than those with a slim waistline. This was shown in a new study conducted by the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Coherent research has shown that being underweight is considerably more dangerous for the elderly than being overweight. A study at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, has now shown that large waist circumference is associated with the risk of increased mortality in the elderly.

30 scientific studies

An international team which includes researchers from the Sahlgrenska Academy has brought together data from a total of 30 scientific studies in order to identify risk factors associated with mortality in people aged 65 to 74 years.

Large waistline increases risk of death

The comprehensive study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, shows that older men and women who have a large waistline run an increased risk of death – particularly due to cardiovascular disease – irrespective of if their Body Mass Index is normal, low, or high.

The results, which were controlled for smoking and age, are based on a five-year follow-up of over 32,000 men and 25,000 women from more than ten countries.

Cardiovascular disease

An unhealthy large waistline is defined in the study as more than 102 centimeters (40 inches) in men and more than 88 centimeters (35 inches) in women. According to the results, a waist circumference of 132 centimeters (52 inches) in men, and 116 centimeters (46 inches) in women, was linked to a doubled risk of death. For cardiovascular death there was a doubling in risk at a waist circumference of 123 cm among men and 105 cm in women.

“People have long known that that a large waistline there is a strong link between disorders of glucose and fat metabolism in the body. The results provide a solid basis for showing that waistlines are an important factor that continues to have a significant effect on health even in the elderly,” commented Professor Annika Rosengren, who participated in the study.

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Attached files

  • Annika Rosengren, Professor of Medicine at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, and senior physician at Sahlgrenska University Hospital.


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