Posted on Mar 17, 2014, 6 a.m.
Being obese may raise a person’s risk of experiencing a fall by 31%.
A common cause of injury among older men and women, falls are a major cause of disability, and – in some cases – hospitalization and/or death. Rebecca Mitchell, from the University of New South Wales (Australia), and colleagues analyzed data collected on 5,681 people, ages 65 years and older, enrolled in the New South Wales Prevention Baseline Survey. Participants were asked about their history of falling, their perception of their own risk of falling, their general health status, medication use and activity levels. Those subject who had fallen one or more times in the previous 12 months were further surveyed as to how many of those falls resulted in injury and how many required medical attention or led to hospital admission. The data revealed that 23% of healthy-weight respondents had fallen once during the previous 12 months and 34% had fallen more than once. About 30% of obese respondents fell once and 45% fell more than once, making the overall fall risk 31% higher in the obese group. Citing that the obese subjects tended to also have other health conditions (such as heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure), moreso experience physical discomfort, and take multiple prescription medications, the study authors report that: “Older obese individuals have an increased risk of falls and obese fallers have a higher prevalence of pain and inactivity than fallers of a healthy weight. “
Rebecca J. Mitchell, Stephen R. Lord, Lara A. Harvey, Jacqueline C.T. Close. “Associations between obesity and overweight and fall risk, health status and quality of life in older people.” Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, February 4, 2014.