TUESDAY, Jan. 11, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Loss of five or more percent of body weight among older women is associated with a higher risk for dying, according to a study published online Jan. 5 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Lisa J. Underland, D.O., from Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in New York City, and colleagues examined long-term weight loss (≥5 percent of baseline body weight), physical functioning, and mortality in older women participating in the Long Life Study. The analysis included 5,039 women (average age, 78.76 years) with a mean follow-up of 5.4 years.

The researchers found that long-term weight loss was associated with a higher risk for all-cause mortality (hazard ratio [HR], 1.66). There was no association observed between weight gain and mortality or cardiovascular outcomes. Being in the highest quartile for grip strength protected against all-cause mortality (HR, 0.51). When adjusting for changes in weight, race, history of coronary heart disease, smoking, and diabetes, the Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB) was associated with a lower risk for mortality (HR, 0.29). Independent of weight change, greater grip strength and higher SPPB scores were associated with lower risks for vascular death and coronary heart disease.

“Efforts should be made to improve mobility and muscle strength in older women rather than weight loss,” the authors write.

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