TUESDAY, March 22, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Being overweight in midlife is associated with long-term adverse health and economic consequences in older adulthood, according to a study published online March 15 in JAMA Network Open.

Sadiya S. Khan, M.D., from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, and colleagues examined the association of body mass index (BMI) in midlife with morbidity burden, longevity, and health care expenditures in adults ≥65 years. Analysis included 29,621 participants enrolled between November 1967 and January 1973 with linked Medicare follow-up data from 1985 through 2015.

The researchers found that higher cumulative morbidity burden in older adulthood was seen among those who were overweight (7.22 morbidity-years) and those with classes I and II obesity (9.80) versus with those with a normal BMI (6.10) in midlife. There was similar mean age at death for those who were overweight (82.1 years) and those who had normal BMI (82.3 years) but it was lower among those with classes I and II obesity (80.8 years). In those with normal BMI, the proportion of life-years lived in older adulthood with Gagne score of at least 1 was 0.38 percent, compared to 0.41 percent in those with overweight and 0.43 percent in those with classes I and II obesity. In older adulthood, cumulative median per-person health care costs were significantly higher among overweight participants ($12,390) and those with classes I and II obesity ($23,396) versus those with a normal BMI.

“Resources and strategies are urgently needed at the individual and population level to address the growing public health challenge of excess weight in the context of an aging population,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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