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Journal of Aging Research
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 765071, 8 pages
Research Article

Is There a Reversal in the Effect of Obesity on Mortality in Old Age?

1Department of Health Promotion, School of Public Health, Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, P.O.B. 39040, Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel
2Herczeg Institute on Aging, Tel Aviv University, P.O.B. 39040, Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel
3George Washington University Medical Center and School of Public Health, Washington, DC 20037, USA

Received 3 February 2011; Revised 5 May 2011; Accepted 9 June 2011

Academic Editor: Bo A. Hagberg

Copyright © 2011 Jiska Cohen-Mansfield and Rotem Perach. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Studies of obesity and its relationship with mortality risk in older persons have yielded conflicting results. We aimed to examine the age-related associations between obesity and mortality in older persons. Data were drawn from the Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Aging Study (CALAS), a national survey of a random sample of older Jewish persons in Israel conducted during 1989–1992. Analyses included 1369 self-respondent participants aged 75–94 from the Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Aging Study (CALAS). Mortality data at 20-year followup were recorded from the Israeli National Population Registry. Obesity was significantly predictive of higher mortality for persons aged 75–84, but from age 85 onwards, obesity had a protective effect on mortality albeit at a nonsignificant level. Being underweight was consistently predictive of mortality. Findings suggest that the common emphasis on avoiding obesity may not apply to those advancing towards old-old age, at least as far as mortality is concerned.