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Health Effects of Obesity
Degree of Overweight and Obesity Directly Linked with Immobility
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Obesity - Health Effects - Physical Mobility

Findings by the University of North Carolina's investigators indicate that obesity reduces functional independence in the elderly, particularly among African-American women.

Obesity Health Study Method
The investigators studied the relationship between obesity and immobility in a group of 11,261 Caucasian and African-American men and women between the ages of 54 and 73 years. Obesity is assessed by calculating the body mass index (BMI) from measured weight and height. Obesity is defined as a BMI of 30 or greater according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and NAASO's Practical Guidelines on the Identification, Evaluation and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults and overweight is defined as a BMI of 25 to 29.9.

Obesity Health Study Results
Sixty-eight percent of African-American Women reported difficulty in moving around and other physical function, which was higher than the prevalence of immobility in the African-American men (44%) and higher than both Caucasian men (38%) and women (54%). Higher levels of overweight were significantly related to increased risk of immobility within each of the ethnic and gender groups. The risk of immobility was higher in normal weight African-Americans (those who had a BMI of 21) compared with Caucasians but the risks became parallel with higher levels of BMI. The relative risks for reduced mobility were 1.4-2.0 times greater in obese people (BMI of >30) compared with normal weight people (BMI 21).

Obesity Health Study Conclusion
In both Caucasian and African-American men and women an increasing degree of overweight and obesity was associated with an increased risk of immobility. Obesity is one potential modifiable risk factor which can compromise the ability of the aging population to maintain their functional independence.

Source: Press Release: North American Association For The Study Of Obesity 2002

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