HealthDay News — Relative to healthy-weight women, obese older women are at higher risk for death, disease and disability before age 85, according to researchers.

“Overall and abdominal obesity were important and potentially modifiable factors associated with dying or developing mobility disability and major chronic disease before 85 years of age in older women,”  Eileen Rillamas-Sun, PhD, MPH, from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, and colleagues reported in  JAMA Internal Medicine.

To examine the effect of obesity on late-age survival in women without disease or disability, the researchers evaluated data from 36,611 women (mean baseline age, 72.4 years), participating in the Women’s Health Initiative observational study and clinical trial programs, who could have reached age 85 years or older if they survived to the last outcomes evaluation on Sept. 17, 2012.

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Both obese and underweight women were more likely to die before 85 years of age, compared to healthy-weight women, the researchers found.

The risks of incident disease and mobility disability were increased for overweight and obese women. The adjusted odds ratios of mobility disability were 1.6 for overweight women and 3.2, 6.6 and 6.7 for women with class I, II and III obesity, respectively, compared with healthy-weight women.

Risk for earlier death, incident disease and mobility disability were increased with waist circumference greater than 88 cm.


  1. Rillamas-Sun E et al. JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174(1):98-106.