Over a third of 60-70 year olds are battling the bulge
26th November 2013
obesityScottish researchers claim that despite being a problem mainly associated among younger people, obesity is more widespread than first thought and over a third of 60 to 70-year-olds are now at a dangerous weight level. The team involved in the new study also discovered that the amount of males aged 18 to 22 with a waist measurement in excess of 40 inches (102 cm), has doubled, increasing from 4.6% to 10.7%. Meanwhile, the number of women in the same age bracket who have a waist size greater than 34.5 inches (88 cm) has almost tripled, increasing from 9.25% to 24.4%. The team from the University of Glasgow analysed statistics from the Health Survey of England and the Scottish Health Survey, contrasting information relating to 1994 to 1996 against similar facts from 2008 to 2010. They found that the total number of people with a body mass index (BMI) reading of more than 30 (I.e. classified as 'obese') had risen 5 to 15% on average, with an evident peak at age 60 to 70. Up to 38% were obese over both sexes. The peak was seen at five to ten years later than what was observed during 1994 to 1996 for men, and but was no different for women. Prevalence of BMI over 30 has doubled in young English men (to 10.7%) and tripled in young Scottish males (to 12.1%). Women fared worse though with 17.8% in England having a BMI of over 30 and 20.1% in Scotland. Waistlines are clearly expanding at a fast rate, with researchers finding the percentage of people having a ‘large’ waist circumference – 102 cm/40 inches for men, 88 cm/34.5 inches for women – spiralling from 30% to 70% for men aged 80 to 85 and for women between the ages of 65 and 70. It seems Scots are gripped in an even worse obesity crisis than their English counterparts as the prevalence of a large waist circumference increased fourfold to 12.7% in young men, and almost fivefold in women, to 28.2%. Professor Mike Lean, whose research has been published in the International Journal of Obesity, commented: “People are growing fatter later in life, with waist sizes rising more persistently than BMI which may indicate increased loss of muscle mass in old age. Within the 14-year period of this study, we also are seeing more young people entering adult life already obese, and more older people have adverse body composition. The continuing rise of waist circumference in older age groups is evidence of continued body fat accumulation and redistribution into older age, which is a major public health concern. The proportion of people with a 'normal' BMI has dropped to only about 15 per cent of UK adults by the age of 65. This rather small proportion now includes unhealthy people who have illnesses that have caused weight loss or prevent weight gain, as well as those who are genuinely healthy and active. So older people with an apparently 'healthy' BMI are not all healthy.” Professor Lean added: “The use of BMI alone as a measure for adiposity in this age group may be misleading and using waist circumference might be better for identifying adverse changes in body composition.”