Obesity, Mortality, Disability and Aging in Costa Rica

Luis Rosero-Bixby, Universidad de Costa Rica
Gilbert Brenes-Camacho, Universidad de Costa Rica
Ericka Mendez, Universidad de Costa Rica

We study aging and obesity and their effects on mortality and disability in a middle-income country using longitudinal data from the Costa Rica Longevity and Healthy Aging Study. Obesity prevalence is higher among women and it clearly declines with age after about the 70th birthday. The decline comes from generation effects (younger cohorts are less obese) but there is also a genuine effect of weight loss with aging as longitudinal data show. There is a complex relationship between obesity and risk of dying, which increases with body mass and, especially with abdominal girth, but only in individuals younger than 75 approximately. After this age the relationship reverses and body mass is a protective factor against death, which somehow neutralizes the catastrophic effect on life expectancy that some predict from increasing obesity trends. The impact of obesity on disability is clearer than on mortality, although it disappears at very old ages.

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Presented in Session 140: Aging in Developing Countries