Dare to Be 100: Danger Ahead -- Fat and Frail

September 5, 2014 8:37 PM

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When we think of a person as being frail we generally presume that he or she is skinny. A recent article published in the British Geriatrics Society Journal is entitled, "You Don't Need to Be Thin to Be Frail." It was written by Katie Sheehan of the Irish Longitudinal Study of Aging. She reported on a study in which obese middle age people had a higher incidence of frailty as they age. This recapitulates an article published a few years ago by Hubbard et al entitled, "Frailty, Body Mass Index, and Abdominal Obesity in Older People." (1) The articles suggest that there is an increasing epidemic of frail fat people. Since frailty is known to increase the risk of dependency and mortality this is to be viewed with alarm.

The proposed sequence suggests that obesity represents a threat to physical activity because of the higher work load imposed by lugging around the extra pounds. The less we move the greater is the tendency to put on more weight, and so the sequence is continued. Less movement means weaker muscles le...

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