Long-Term Obesity and Physical Functioning in Older Americans

Jennifer B. Dowd, CUNY Institute for Demographic Research (CIDR)

Many Americans are becoming obese earlier in their lives, increasing the average number of years lived with obesity. The implications of long-term obesity will be important for anticipating functioning and disability trends among aging cohorts and forecasting the corresponding morbidity and economic burdens to individuals and society. Despite the importance of understanding these associations, the impact of long-term obesity on physical functioning of older adults is not well known. This paper will examine the association of long-term obesity and physical functioning using data from 7,487 adults aged 60-79 from the U.S. 1999-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Using retrospective data on reported weight at age 25 and current BMI, we will test the impact of long-term obesity on multiple indicators of physical limitation. The results will help inform medical and policy planning for the aging of cohorts who have come of age during the obesity epidemic.

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Presented in Session 97: Comparative Perspectives on Aging and Health