Weight gain early on impairs mobility in old age

April 7th, 2009 - 4:17 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, April 7 (IANS) Burdening yourself with excess weight early on is likely to impair your old-age mobility, even if those extra pounds are shed, says a new research.
“In both men and women, being overweight or obese put them at greater risk of developing mobility limitations in old age, and the longer they had been overweight or obese, the greater the risk,” said lead investigator Denise Houston.

She is assistant professor of gerontology at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine and an expert on ageing and nutrition. “We also found that, if you were of normal weight in old age but had previously been overweight or obese, you were at greater risk for mobility limitations,” she said.

Carrying extra weight can strain joints, hinder exercise and lead to chronic conditions, such as diabetes, arthritis and heart disease, that are directly related to the development of mobility limitations, Houston said.

Houston added that dropping weight later in life can lead to problems with mobility because then this condition is usually the outcome of an underlying chronic condition.

Researchers, who defined mobility limitation as difficulty walking a quarter-mile or climbing 10 steps, analysed information from 2,845 participants with an average age of 74 years.

Participants reported no problems with mobility at the beginning of the study. Information on new mobility limitations was collected every six months over seven years of follow-up.

Researchers found that women who were overweight or obese from their mid-20s to their 70s were nearly three times more likely to develop mobility limitations than women who were normal weight throughout.

The risk for men was slightly less - they were about 1.6 times more likely to develop mobility limitations, the study said, according to a Wake Forest release.

The study, funded by the National Institute on Aging, is slated to appear in the April 15 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.

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