Obesity and Disability: More Research Needed To Illuminate Link

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Obesity and Disability

As evidence accumulates for an association between obesity and frailty, a dialogue must begin regarding the consequences of rising obesity rates for the aging population, write Luigi Ferrucci, M.D., Ph.D., National Institute on Aging, Baltimore, and Dawn Alley, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, in an accompanying editorial.

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"Several important questions about the relationship between obesity and disability remain unanswered," Drs. Ferrucci and Alley write. "How does obesity result in disability independent of disease? Are there ways to intervene in this process by making obesity less disabling, and are there ways to intervene without weight loss, which may be risky in older persons? Why is obesity closely related to disability in old age but less related to mortality? Does obesity exert a protective effect in elderly patients?"

"Given the costs, the difficulties, and the burden associated with treating obesity, there is an overwhelming need for research that addresses these questions," they conclude.

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