A recent study published in JAMA Network Open suggests that weight loss in older adults, particularly among men, is linked to early death. The study highlights the need to monitor and investigate weight loss in elderly individuals, as it can potentially indicate the presence of various life-shortening diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and other life-limiting conditions.
The study examined nearly 16,523 adults at least 70 years old in Australia and more than 2,000 adults in the US who were at least 65 years old. The findings showed that loss of 5 to 10 per cent of body weight among men was associated with a 33 per cent increase in mortality. Loss of more than 10 per cent of body weight was linked to a 289 per cent increase in mortality. On the other hand, weight gain was not significantly associated with mortality among men.
The change in body size associated with increased mortality risk was also seen among elderly women. Among women, loss of 5 to 10 per cent of body weight was associated with a 26 per cent increase in mortality, while loss of more than 10 per cent of body weight resulted in a 114 per cent increase in mortality.
The researchers noted that weight loss may be the result of the different body composition characteristics of men and women. For men, a higher proportion of body mass consists of muscle and bone mass, whereas for women, a higher proportion of body mass is composed of fat. If weight loss preceding chronic illness is predominantly loss of muscle mass and bone mass, it could explain the differences observed between men and women.
The study suggests that physicians should be aware of the significance of weight loss, especially among older men, and monitor their patients closely for potential life-shortening conditions. Weight loss can be an early indicator of these conditions and could potentially lead to early intervention and better health outcomes for patients.
In conclusion, weight loss in older adults, particularly among men, is linked to early death and highlights the need for careful monitoring of weight loss in elderly individuals. This can potentially indicate the presence of life-shortening diseases and can lead to early intervention and better health outcomes.