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Elderly Waist-to-Hip Ratio Best Weight Guideline

Current body mass index guidelines overestimate risks

FRIDAY, Aug. 25 (HealthDay News) -- The ratio of waist-to-hips is a better guideline to optimal weight in those aged 75 and over, rather than body mass index, or BMI, which overestimates the risks of weight-related mortality, according to a study published in the August issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Astrid E. Fletcher, Ph.D., of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in London, U.K., and colleagues conducted a study of 14,833 subjects aged 75 and above who received a health assessment including measurements of both BMI and waist and hip circumferences. The subjects were followed up for mortality for a median of 5.9 years.

During follow-up, 6,649 subjects died, of whom 46 percent died due to circulatory causes. Among nonsmokers, who accounted for 90 percent of the cohort, adjusted hazard ratios for mortality for all other quintiles of BMI were less than one when compared with the lowest quintile of BMI. Hazard ratios increased for both men and women with increasing waist-to-hip ratio. There was a positive association between waist-to-hip ratio and circulatory mortality for both sexes while for men there was no association between BMI and circulatory mortality.

"Current BMI-based health risk categories used by the World Health Organization and others to define the burden of disease related to adult overweight and obesity are not appropriate for persons aged 75 years and above," the authors conclude.

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