‘Elderly women more overweight, obese than men’

More elderly aged 60 and above were overweight and obese in urban areas than in rural areas, found Longitudinal Ageing Study in India 

By Jhumki Kundu, Deepak Pihal
Published: Tuesday 06 July 2021
Women aged 60 and above were more overweight and obese than men. Photo: Pixabay

Obesity continues to afflict the older population in India: A higher proportion of older adults aged 45-59 are overweight and obese (24 per cent and 9 per cent respectively) than elderly aged 60 and above (17 per cent and 6 per cent respectively), according to a report by Longitudinal Ageing Study in India (LASI). 

More elderly (aged 60 and above) were overweight and obese in urban areas (27 per cent and 12 per cent respectively) than in rural areas (12 per cent and 3 per cent respectively), the LASI report published recently found. 

Women aged 60 and above were more overweight and obese (18 per cent and 8 per cent) than men (15 per cent and 3 per cent). Women are also more prone to obesity due to higher sex hormone levels (Swami et al, 2005).

Obesity among adults in India has grown multi-fold since 1980. At least 39 per cent and 13 per cent adults aged 18 years and above were overweight and obese respectively in 2014, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).  

Elderly individuals are prone to being overweight and obese as they lead a more sedentary lifestyle and are not as physically active (WHO, 2017). Although the negative impact of obesity declines with the advancement of age, it remains an essential addendum to other behavioural risk factors in the development of age-related morbidities and mortality among elderly individuals (Stevens et al,1998).

Being overweight and obese leads to a significant decline in physical performance and other activities of daily living among the elderly (Hergenroeder et al,2011). Obesity can independently influence the morbidities in the elderly.

Obesity in the elderly is a significant public health issue. First, it adds to the age-related risk of developing morbidities and mortalities. Second, with the increase in the number of elderly and improvement in life expectancy, the morbidities and mortalities related to being overweight and obesity among elderly individuals can have an enormous economic impact on the health system and society. 

The state-wise scenario of overweight / obesity elderly individuals is not uniform, the report found. For example, a majority of overweight older adults aged 45 and above were in Delhi and Kerala (34 per cent); Puducherry, Lakshadweep (33 per cent); Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli; Punjab and Chandigarh (32 per cent).

The percentage of overweight older adults (aged 45 and above) was the lowest in Meghalaya (11 per cent), Chhattisgarh (13 per cent) and Assam (14 per cent).

Across states, the pervasiveness of obesity among older people aged 45 and above ranged from 24 per cent in Chandigarh to 2 per cent in Assam. The prevalence of obesity among elderly aged 60 and above was higher in states / UTs of Chandigarh (22 per cent), Delhi (18 per cent), Puducherry (15 per cent) and Daman and Diu (15 per cent).

It was lower than five per cent in Tripura (0.7 per cent); Assam (1.1 per cent); Meghalaya (1.5 per cent); Chhattisgarh (1.6 per cent), Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand (2.8 per cent).

Among older adults aged 45-59, the prevalence of obesity was higher than five per cent in most states / UTs in India, except Chhattisgarh (2.6 per cent); Assam (2.5 per cent); Meghalaya (2.8 per cent); Nagaland (3.0 per cent); Tripura (3.7 per cent); Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh (4.9 per cent).

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