Journal of Obesity & Metabolic Syndrome

Murayama, Hiroshi, and Benjamin A. Shaw*

This article reviewed studies to investigate the association between trajectories of body mass index (BMI) and mortality among older adults. Investigators conducted a systematic search of published peer-reviewed literature in the PubMed database, and three articles that satisfied the inclusion criteria for the review were identified. All of these studies used group-based trajectory models to identify distinct BMI trajectories. Two studies were derived from the U.S. and used data from the Health and Retirement Study, with up to nine repeated observations. Most of the BMI trajectories in older Americans were increasing and fell primarily within the overweight and obese ranges. The other study was from Japan and used nationwide data, with up to seven repeated observations. BMI trajectories identified in the older Japanese were mostly decreasing and fell primarily within the normal weight range. Although the distribution of BMI trajectories was different between the two nations, the findings from these three studies consistently demonstrated that people with stable overweight trajectories had the lowest all-cause mortality rates in both countries. Beyond this, however, these studies suggested that priorities for weight control in old age should likely differ between Western and non-Western countries. Research regarding BMI trajectories and mortality in old age is very limited at present. Evidence from countries other than the U.S. and Japan is warranted in order to validate current findings and guide the development of local clinical and public health strategies for body weight management aimed at improving the health and survival of older adults.

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* Denotes CSDA Associates, Affiliates, and Staff