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Weight change & dying in older adults

Executive Summary

* This week's study reviewed associations of change in weight and waist circumference with deaths in older adults. Deaths included those from cancer, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and all causes.

* The article reviewed men and women separately. It concluded that, compared to men with stable weight, men who lost 10% of their body weight or more during the study had almost a 4 times greater risk of dying. Compared to women with stable weight, women who lost 10% of their body weight or more during the study had just over twice the risk of dying.

* Those number were for all deaths. The study looked at cancer and CVD deaths separately, for men and women again. It found similar high risks for men and women who lost 10% or more of their body weight.

* Gaining more than 10% body weight produced no significant results for men or women, for cancer, or CVD, or deaths from any cause.

* The narrative of the article implied that losing weight was the factor in deaths. One sentence in the article captured the most likely explanation – weight loss is a likely indicator of the presence of life-shortening diseases.

* We are advised to see a doctor if we experience unexplained weight loss. This study has confirmed that unintentional weight loss is a marker of life-shortening illness, it has not shown that weight loss is life-shortening per se.


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