Anna Dahl

Karolinska Institutet, Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics

Stockholm, Sweden

Anna Dahl


Weight trajectories and health in late life; a life course approach


More than 60% of the European adult population is overweight or obese (hence forth overweight) including persons aged 65 and above. Older adults are heavier and have been overweight over a longer period of time than previous generations. It is alarming since overweight is associated with several chronic health conditions, functional limitations, and mortality. However, the association is not clear cut; in late life overweight is associated with both negative and positive health outcomes. Most research has focused on weight at a specific time point in relation to late life health. But current weight does not tell the story of past weight and changes in weight. This might be especially ill-times in late life, as there is a selection bias for people who have survived until old age, and diseases common in late life might cause weight changes. Hence, we propose that the implications of overweight on late life health can only be understood from a life course perspective.

Existing population-based studies that originate from the Swedish Twin Registry (SATSA, OCTO-Twin, and Gender) containing data ranging over fifty years and including 2061 persons, will be used to study the association between weight trajectories over the life span and outcomes in late life; physical and cogitative health, functional ability, and mortality. Causal pathways between overweight and health in late life will be elucidated by adding genes and life style factors into the models.  A special focus will be given to those persons who gain and lose weight several times over the life span, ie weight cycles. This proposed project gives a unique opportunity to achieve a holistic view on weight and health over the life span and we posit that a life course perspective on weight is crucial to understand the implications of the obesity epidemic on the ageing European population.

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