The Association of Weight Loss, Weight Status, and Abdominal Obesity with All-Cause Mortality in Older Adults

Tagrid Abdullah Alharbi, Joanne Ryan, Rosanne Freak-Poli, Danijela Gasevic, Jacqueline Scali, Karen Ritchie, Marie Laure Ancelin, Alice J. Owen

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Objectives: The objectives of this study were to examine whether weight loss, weight status (based on body mass index [BMI] categories), and abdominal obesity (based on waist circumference [WC]) were associated with a 17-year mortality risk in community-dwelling older adults. Methods: Participants were 2,017 community-dwelling adults aged 65 years or above in the longitudinal Enquête de Santé Psychologique-Risques, Incidence et Traitement study. Self-reported weight loss was collected at baseline during face-To-face interviews. Bodyweight (kg), height (m), and WC (cm) were independently measured at the baseline. BMI was categorized as follows: underweight (BMI <18.5 kg/m), normal weight (18.5-24.9 kg/m), overweight (25-29.9 kg/m), and obese (≥30 kg/m). Abdominal obesity was defined by a WC of ≥102 cm in men and ≥88 cm in women. Adjusted Cox proportional hazards models were used to examine associations of weight loss, weight status, and abdominal obesity with all-cause mortality. Results: Over 17 years of follow-up (median 15.5 years), 812 participants died. Abdominal obesity compared to nonabdominal obesity was associated with a 49% increased mortality risk (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.22-1.83). However, being overweight (but not obese) was associated with a 20% decreased risk (95% CI: 0.66-0.97) compared to a normal BMI. Gender did not affect these associations. In the whole cohort, self-reported weight loss at baseline was not associated with an increased mortality risk after adjusting for health and lifestyle factors. However, in men, a baseline self-reported recent weight loss of >3 kg was associated with a 52% increase in mortality risk (95% CI: 1.05-2.18) in a fully adjusted model. Conclusion: In community-dwelling adults aged ≥65 years, abdominal obesity was strongly associated with increased mortality risk. Being overweight appeared, however, to be protective against mortality. Modest self-reported weight loss was not associated with all-cause mortality in community-dwelling older adults after adjusting for health and lifestyle factors. However, men reporting recent weight loss of more than 3 kg may be at increased risk. The findings of this study support the use of WC, rather than BMI, as a predictor of mortality risk in older adults.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022


  • Abdominal obesity
  • Mortality
  • Obesity
  • Weight loss

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