Science and Tech


Study: Weight loss a sign of increased mortality risk among seniors

Weight loss can be a sign of an onset of a fatal disease, researchers warned in a new study.
Man on a scale.
Posted at 11:18 AM, Apr 11, 2023

You may think losing weight improves health, but as one study indicates, dropping pounds isn't always a sign of positive health outcomes. 

According to a new study released in the Journal of the American Medical Association, weight loss among older adults was associated with an increase in mortality risk. Researchers from Australia, Germany and the U.S. were involved in the study. 

The study included participants over age 65 in Australia and age 70 in the U.S.

Researchers noted that the study was limited by the inability to differentiate between intended and unintended weight loss. The authors noted, however, that doctors should be aware of an association between weight loss and the onset of fatal diseases. 

Researchers were asking, “Is change in body size associated with increased mortality risk among healthy older adults?”

According to the researchers, among men, a 5% to 10% loss of body weight was associated with a 33% increase in mortality. A more than 10% loss of body weight was associated with a 289% increase in mortality, the study said. 

The results were less pronounced among women. 

A loss of 5% to 10% of body weight was associated with a 26% increase in mortality among women. An over 10% loss was associated with a 114% increase in mortality, the authors wrote. 

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“This study suggests that weight loss was associated with an increase in mortality, particularly among men, highlighting the need to monitor and investigate weight loss in older adults,” the study’s authors wrote. 

The National Institute on Agingoffers tips on its website for seniors to eat a healthy, balanced diet. It recommends consuming a variety of foods from all food groups to reduce the risk of developing diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. It recommends eating low levels of sodium, saturated fats and added sugar while consuming lots of lean protein.