Midlife obesity affects seniors’ mobility

By Sheryl Kay • Published: July 21st, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

It’s always good to lose excess weight. But it’s even better to not put it on in the first place.

Research now shows that people sixty-five years of age and older are paying for the extra pounds they carried in their forties. The price? A host of limited mobility issues as they age. That’s the case even for those who eventually shed excess weight in midlife.

The seven-year-long study followed more than twenty-eight-hundred people who were free from any mobility issues whatsoever. Then every six months they were re-evaluated for mobility-related difficulties.

The findings were published recently in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Those who were obese from their twenties through their seventies were two to three times more likely to experience mobility limitations later in life compared with those who were of normal weight throughout the same fifty-year period. However, the same odds held true for men and women who shed all their extra weight at age fifty. Researchers also noted that carrying excess weight can hamper exercise, injure joints and lead to chronic conditions such as arthritis, diabetes and heart disease, all directly tied to the onset of mobility issues.

And while it’s best never to have to battle the bulge, losing weight at any point still has other undeniable benefits. Of course, the sooner you get started the better. Preventing obesity in young and middle-aged adults can help ensure they keep putting one foot in front of the other for a long time to come.