The relationship between body mass index and quality of life in community-living older adults living in the United States

J Nutr Health Aging. 2013;17(6):495-501. doi: 10.1007/s12603-013-0022-y.


Background: Carrying excess weight is associated with various chronic conditions especially in older adults, and can have a negative influence on the quality of life of this population.

Objective: The objective of this study was to estimate the independent (i.e. adjusted for demographic, socioeconomic and health status differences) impact of Body Mass Index (BMI) on health-related quality of life.

Design: A mail survey was sent to 60,000 older adults living in 10 states.

Methods: The survey assessed quality of life using the average physical component scores (PCS) and mental component scores (MCS) obtained from the Veterans Rand 12-item (VR-12) health status tool embedded in the survey. Ordinary least squares (OLS) regression techniques were used to estimate the independent impact of each BMI category on quality of life, compared to the impact of other chronic conditions.

Results: A total of 22,827 (38%) eligible sample members responded to the survey. Of those, 2.2% were underweight, 38.5% had a normal BMI, 37.0% were overweight, 18.5% were obese and 1.9% were morbidly obese. Following OLS regression techniques, respondents' PCS values were statistically significantly lower for the underweight, overweight, obese and morbidly obese BMI categories, compared to the normal BMI group. Compared with all other chronic conditions, being morbidly obese (-6.0 points) had the largest negative impact on the PCS. Underweight was the only BMI category with a statistically significantly lower MCS value.

Conclusions: The greatest negative impacts of the various BMI categories on quality of life were on physical rather than mental aspects, especially for those in the underweight, obese and morbidly obese categories, more so than many other chronic conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Body Weight
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Obesity, Morbid / epidemiology*
  • Overweight / epidemiology*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Thinness / epidemiology*
  • United States