Body mass index and mortality in nonsmoking older adults: the Cardiovascular Health Study

Am J Public Health. 1998 Apr;88(4):623-9. doi: 10.2105/ajph.88.4.623.


Objectives: This study assesses the relationship of body mass index to 5-year mortality in a cohort of 4317 nonsmoking men and women aged 65 to 100 years.

Methods: Logistic regression analyses were conducted to predict mortality as a function of baseline body mass index, adjusting for demographic, clinical, and laboratory covariates.

Results: There was an inverse relationship between body mass index and mortality; death rates were higher for those who weighed the least. Inclusion of covariates had trivial effects on these results. People who had lost 10% or more of their body weight since age 50 had a relatively high death rate. When that group was excluded, there was no remaining relationship between body mass index and mortality.

Conclusions: The association between higher body mass index and mortality often found in middle-aged populations was not observed in this large cohort of older adults. Over-weight does not seem to be a risk factor for 5-year mortality in this age group. Rather, the risks associated with significant weight loss should be the primary concern.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cause of Death*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mortality*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Survival Analysis
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Weight Loss