Obesity, arthritis worsen women’s lives far more than men

May 4th, 2009 - 12:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, May 4 (IANS) Obesity and arthritis worsen women’s lives two-and-a-half times more than men, especially during their declining years, according to new research.
In a study by Duke University Medical Centre (DUMC) that included 5,888 people over the age of 65, women suffered up to two-and-a-half times more disabilities than men of the same age.

Higher rates of obesity and arthritis among these women explained up to 48 percent of the gender gap in disability, above all other common chronic health conditions.

“While women tend to live longer than men, this study shows that they are at greater risk of living with disability and much of the excess disability is attributable to higher rates of obesity and arthritis,” said Heather Whitson, assistant professor of medicine and lead study investigator.

“This is important because it suggests that women’s tendency to pack on extra pounds in their child-bearing and peri-menopausal years translates into loss of independence in their old age.”

Researchers said the study is the first to isolate the impact of specific chronic health conditions on the difference in disability rates between older men and women, said a DUMC release.

“The reason for this discrepancy in disability has not been well understood but we found that chronic health conditions that women experience in greater numbers than men may explain part of that gap,” said Harvey Jay Cohen, study co-author.

These findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Geriatrics Society.

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