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AGS: Obesity Linked to Disability and Dependency

Moderately to severely obese seniors most likely to have limitations requiring long-term care

FRIDAY, May 2 (HealthDay News) -- In community-dwelling older adults, moderate to severe obesity is associated with an increased risk of disability and dependency, according to research presented this week at the American Geriatrics Society's Annual Scientific Meeting in Washington, D.C.

Laura P. Sands, Ph.D., of Purdue University in South Bend, Ind., and colleagues studied more than 4,600 individuals (average age 76), and classified subjects as normal weight (39 percent), overweight (39 percent), mildly obese (15 percent) and moderately to severely obese (6 percent).

Compared to normal weight subjects, the researchers found that those with moderate to severe obesity were significantly less likely to be able to perform activities of daily living (ADLs) -- such as feeding themselves, dressing, getting into or out of a bed or chair, bathing or using the toilet. They also found that 33 percent of those with moderate to severe obesity reported using either paid or unpaid personal care services while the rates among mildly obese and overweight subjects (22 percent and 20 percent, respectively) were not significantly higher than the rate for normal weight subjects.

"We expected a higher rate of ADL disability among (all) obesity categories, but found that only the moderately to severely obese respondents were at significantly higher risk of this," Sands said in a statement. "These findings suggest that most obesity-related increases in need for long-term care in the coming decade will be attributable to moderate to extreme obesity."

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