Higher-than-normal weight in early life increases the risk of mobility problems and associated disabilities in old age even if the weight is lost, according to a new study.
The research was conducted by scientists from Sticht Center on Aging at Wake Forest University School of Medicine and found that women who were overweight or obese (BMI of 25 or greater) from their mid-20s to their 70s were almost three times more likely to develop mobility limitations.
Men in the same age group were about 1.6 times more likely to develop problems.
“Over the past couple of decades there has been a trend towards declining rates of physical disability in older adults,” says lead investigator Dr. Denise Houston, an assistant professor of gerontology at the WFUSM and an expert on aging and nutrition.
“However, the dramatic increase in obesity in the United States may reverse these declines and lead to an increase in physical disability among future generations of older adults,” she adds.
That is because weight puts pressure on joints and bones, hindering exercise and leading to heart disease, diabetes and arthritis.
While some medical conditions may cause obesity, poor diet is frequently responsible for the condition and is remediable. In particular, health experts have suggested that an alkaline diet rich in citrus fruits, vegetables, tubers, nuts and legumes may boost bone health into old age.