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Can Physical Activity Attenuate Aging-related Weight Loss in Older People? The Yale Health and Aging Study, 1982-1994. James Dziura, Carlos Mendes de Leon, Stanislav Kasl, and Loretta DiPietro. Background. Body weight increases through middle-age, but starts to decline during older age;
James Dziura, Carlos Mendes de Leon, Stanislav Kasl, and Loretta DiPietro
The purpose of this analysis was to determine, longitudinally, the trajectory of weight loss with age and the relation between physical activity and body weight change in a cohort of people aged 65 years and older.
We hypothesized that: 1) body weight would decline over the follow-up; and 2) physical activity would play an important role in minimizing weight loss over time.
Older residents (≥65 y) of New Haven, CT enrolled in the Yale Health and Aging Project – one of the funded sites of the Established Populations for the Epidemiologic Study of the Elderly (EPESE).
Interested subjects (N=2,812)
Table 1. Cross-sectional distribution of mean (±sd) body weight at each year of follow-up among those who survived and those who did not survive to the next interview year.
Survived to next interview year
Did not survive to next interview year
* p<0.001 based on t-test for independent samples; # p<0.01 based on chi-square test.
Body weight (lbs)
* Model adjusted for age, sex, housing strata, and interaction of each with time.
Based on random effects modeling adjusted for time and time2. Regression estimates for TAS*Time interaction represent the change in the rate (per year) of weight loss per unit change in the study variable.
*also adjusted for sex, race, education, height, functional disability score, and housing.
Fig. 3 - Parameter Estimates (95% CI)* from the Fully-Adjusted Random Effects Model Determining the Effects of Physical Activity Score on Attenuation of Weight Loss by Survival and Chronic Disease Status.
Attenuation of weight loss (lbs/year)
0.15 (0.00, 0.30)
0.06 (-0.12, 0.25)
0.09 (0.02, 0.15)
0.09 (0.00, 0.17)
-0.02 (-0.11, 0.07)
Survivors with no chronic disease (n=350)
Survivors with chronic disease (n=555)
Non-survivors with no chronic disease (n=422)
Non-survivors with chronic disease (n=973)
If we were to consider weight loss a somatic indicator of frailty in older people, it appears as though even among older people afflicted with chronic conditions that contribute to frailty, an active lifestyle can attenuate the rate of failure, thereby maintaining some quality of health and function in older age.