According to a study that was just published in the peer-reviewed journal BMJ Open, carrying around much too much weight, especially a belly bulge, from middle age onwards is associated with an increased risk of developing physical weakness in later age. The researchers underline the significance of maintaining a healthy weight throughout adulthood in order to assist in lowering the chance of developing frailty. This may help reduce the likelihood of developing the condition.
Pre-frailty is defined as having one to two of the following five characteristics, whereas frailty is defined as having at least three of the following five characteristics: unintended weight loss, weariness, poor grip strength, slow walking speed, and low physical activity levels. It is linked to an increased risk of falling, being disabled, requiring hospitalization, experiencing a decline in quality of life, and ultimately passing away. There is an accumulation of research that shows obese older persons may be at an elevated risk. This may be the case because obesity accelerates the natural reduction in muscular strength, aerobic capacity, and physical function that comes with aging. However, not many researchers have looked at the relationship between weight fluctuations and the likelihood of developing frailty over time.
Because of this, the researchers relied on individuals from the population-based Troms Study to determine whether or not general (BMI) and abdominal (waist circumference) obesity, alone and together, would increase the risk of pre-frailty and frailty. The seven survey waves that make up the Tromso Study were conducted between 1974 and 2015-16 on a total of 45,000 people in the city of Tromso, Norway, ranging in age from 25 to 99. The data from waves 4 (1994–1995) to wave 7 were used in the present investigation (2015-16).
In the end analysis, there were a total of 4509 participants aged 45 or older. The average age of participants at the start of the study was 51, and the length of the monitoring period was, on average, 21 years. Underweight was defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 18.5 or less, normal weight as having a BMI between 18.5-24.9, overweight as having a BMI between 25-29.9, and obesity as having a BMI of 30 or more. The waist circumference was ranked as normal if it was 94 centimeters or less for men and if it was 80 centimeters or less for women; moderately high if it was 95-102 centimeters for males and 81-88 centimeters or more for women; and high if it was above 102 centimeters.
By the 2015–2016 academic year, 28.0% of participants were considered to be in a pre-frail state, while 1.0% were considered to be frail. Women made up over 51% of individuals who were considered to be strong, while women made up 55% of those who were considered to be pre-frail. Although individuals in both the strong and pre-frail/frail groups gained weight and enlarged their waistlines during the course of the monitoring period, the strong group had a significantly greater number of people with normal BMIs and waistlines at the beginning of the monitoring period.
With the exception of pre-existing diseases such as diabetes, potentially influencing characteristics such as alcohol use and smoking and levels of physical activity were substantially different between the healthy and pre-frail or frail groups. These differences were taken into account throughout the analysis. Compared to those who had a normal BMI, those who were obese in 1994 and whose obesity was determined only by BMI had almost 2.5 times increased risk of becoming pre-frail or frail at the end of the monitoring period. Those who began with a waist circumference that was either fairly high or high were respectively 57% and two times more likely to be pre-frail or frail compared to those who began with a regular waistline.
Those individuals who began the study with a normal BMI but a moderately high waist circumference, or those individuals who were overweight but had a regular waistline, did not have a substantially increased risk of being pre-frail or frail by the time the monitoring period came to a close. On the other hand, those individuals who were obese and also had a waist circumference that was fairly high at the beginning of the monitoring period were.
Those participants who gained weight and those participants whose waistlines grew were shown to have an increased risk of pre-frailty and frailty compared to those participants whose weight and waistlines stayed the same throughout the study. This research was an observational study, thus, it did not follow potentially important changes in lifestyle, food, or friendship networks that could have taken place over the monitoring period. The results, however, are consistent with those of prior long-term studies.
When people over the age of 60 were removed from the study, the researchers found that the effects remained statistically significant for those participants who had baseline obesity and a greater waist circumference. The research only covered a small number of persons who were underweight. The researchers believe that their results may nonetheless be rationally explained by biological mechanisms. [Citation needed] They explain that these factors include an enhanced inflammatory capability of fat cells as well as their infiltration into muscle cells. Both of these factors are likely to exacerbate the normally occurring reduction in muscle mass and strength that comes with aging, which in turn heightens the risk of frailty.
In the context of a quickly aging population and an increasing obesity pandemic, emerging evidence identifies the subgroup of “fat and frail” older persons. This is in contrast to the assumption that frailty is exclusively a wasting condition for the elderly. The findings of this research underline the significance of measuring and maintaining an ideal body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference through adulthood in order to reduce the likelihood of developing frailty in later years.