Mature Women: Who Cares about Obesity?

Mature women present some challenging questions for the treatment of obesity. In the rush this week to declare victory over toddler obesity, we heard absolutely nothing about the rise in the rate of obesity for women over 60 that was recorded in the very same study. Nothing to brag about there.

But we’re also receiving more evidence that obesity in mature women is hardly benign. Eileen Rillamas-Sun and colleagues published data from the Women’s Health Initiative on women who had the potential to reach an age of 85. They found that high waist circumference and BMI predicted a greater risk of death before 85 and for those who did survive to 85, a higher risk of impaired mobility or development of a chronic disease.

Almost a decade ago, the Obesity Society and the American Society for Nutrition published a scientific review and position statement calling for more attention to weight management — while taking care to minimize muscle and bone loss — for older persons with obesity.

Too long, healthcare providers and policymakers have ignored the harm of obesity to older Americans. We can no longer afford it. Says Rillamas-Sun:

You can’t be in denial any longer. Most people need to see the numbers; they prove what is supposedly obvious. And we do have the numbers.

Perhaps it’s not surprising that the people who ignore these facts said nothing about the spike in obesity reported for mature women. But it’s not acceptable.

Click here to read more in the New York Times, here to read the study in JAMA Internal Medicine, and here to read the position statement of the Obesity Society and the American Society for Nutrition.

Long Time Lovers, image © Gisele Wright / flickr

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