Height and body weight in the elderly. I. A 25-year longitudinal study of a population aged 70 to 95 years

Eur J Clin Nutr. 1999 Dec;53(12):905-14. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1600852.


Objective: To describe longitudinal changes in height and body weight between the ages of 70 and 95 y.

Design: Longitudinal cohort study with representative sample of 70-y-olds.

Setting: Department of Geriatric Medicine, Göteborg University, Sweden.

Subjects: 449 males and 524 females, aged 70 y, living in Göteborg were examined in 1971-72 and this study population participated on 11 occasions during a 25-year follow-up.

Results: Mean height decreased 4 and 4.9 cm in males and females respectively and the trend was significant between the ages of 70 and 95 y in both sexes. Between 70 and 75 y of age, a significant difference was found between quintiles of body height where in the highest quintile height was lowered by 0.4 and 0. 3 cm/y, in males and females respectively, and in the lowest quintile by 0.1 cm/y in both sexes. Mean body weight decreased 3.2 and 5.1 kg in males and females respectively, from age 70 to 95 y. The trend was significant over 22 and 20 y for males and females, respectively. Between the ages of 70 and 80 y, individuals in highest quintile of body weight decreased at a rate of 0.8 and 0.6 kg/y, three times higher than those in lowest quintile. Due to the decrease in both height and weight over time, body mass index (BMI) was less affected.

Conclusion: Height, body weight and BMI decreased significantly in both sexes after age 70 y, and there was a gender difference in the trend. The results can be used as reference data for Swedish elderly and might be of importance to the understanding of anthropometry with the ageing process.

Sponsorship: See acknowledgements.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged / physiology*
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology
  • Body Height*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male