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Link between Oral Health Problems and Weight Loss

Weight Loss Study Aim
Weight loss studies of hospitalized and institutionalized older adults suggest a relationship between poor oral health and subsequent weight loss. Given the association between weight loss and subsequent mortality and morbidity, we evaluated how oral health problems contributed to significant weight loss over a 1-year period among a representative sample of community-dwelling older adults.

Weight Loss Study Methods
563 adults aged 70 years and older living at home in rural and urban areas in six New England states were studied. Baseline data included information regarding health status, functional status, physical activity, disease diagnoses, lifestyle behaviors, and cognitive and affective status. Dentists performed oral health assessments. One year later, participants were called and asked questions regarding their health and dietary practices and their current body weight.

Weight Loss Study Results
Over the 1-year period of follow-up, approximately one third of the sample had lost 4 percent or more of their previous total body weight; 6 percent of men and 11 percent of women lost 10 percent or more of their previous body weight. Of the subjects, 37 percent were edentulous; most of these individuals wore full dentures. With gender, income, advanced age, and baseline weight controlled for, edentulousness remained an independent risk factor for significant weight loss (odds ratio 1.63 for 4 percent weight loss and 2.03 for 10 percent weight loss). Individuals with increasing numbers of posterior teeth and functional units were at slightly lower risk for weight loss; however, these associations did not reach statistical significance.

Weight Loss Study Conclusion
Dentate status is an important risk factor for clinically significant weight loss among community-dwelling older adults.

Source: The Gerontological Society of America.

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