Objectives: To describe the age distribution of anthropometric parameters in a population-based sample of older persons.
Methods: Cross-sectional survey of a population-based sample of persons over a wide age-range living in the Chianti area, Italy, between 1998 to 2000. Total cohort: 1453 men and women, of whom 424 younger than 65 and 1029 aged 65 years or older. Participation rate: 69.4% in < 65 yrs and 91.6% in > or = 65 yrs. Analytical cohort: anthropometric measures were available for 1266 subjects.
Results: Height and weight declined with increasing age in both sexes. In men, Body mass index (BMI) increased with age up to age 45-54 and then it declined. In women, it reached its maximum at age 65-74 and remained higher than in men in each corresponding age group above 65 years of age. Waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) progressively increased in men up to age 55-64 and then slightly declined. In women WHR steadily increased over the entire age range.
Conclusions: Height and weight decline with age, regardless to differences in body size attributable to secular trend. In both sexes, important fat redistribution occurs between 45 and 54 years and in older women the increase in WHR mostly reflects a reduction of fat deposits in the hips. This information may be relevant for a correct interpretation of changes in WHR in older persons. However, these findings were obtained in a cross-sectional study and should be verified in a longitudinal perspective.