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OBJECTIVES: To estimate the prevalence of obesity in elderly Americans in 2010 and to discuss the health and economic implications of these estimates.

DESIGN: Three methods of generating future point-prevalence estimates using data from consecutive cross-sectional studies.

SETTING: All regions of the United States.

PARTICIPANTS: Estimates were based on five nationally representative surveys of the adult population of the United States, conducted from 1960 to 2000, and population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.

MEASUREMENTS: Changes in obesity (body mass index (BMI) >=30 kg/m2) and normal weight (BMI <25 kg/m2) prevalence for men and women by 10-year U.S. birth cohorts were examined. The prevalence of obesity and normal weight in the elderly in 2010 was estimated under three different scenarios of obesity prevalence change.

RESULTS: It was estimated that the prevalence of obesity in adults aged 60 and older will increase from 32.0% in 2000 to 37.4% in 2010 (range 33.6-39.6%). The number of obese adults aged 60 and older will increase from 14.6 to 20.9 million (range 18.8-22.2 million). Similarly, it was estimated that the prevalence of normal weight among adults aged 60 and older will decrease from 30.6% in 2000 to 26.7% in 2010 (range 31.0-24.7%).

CONCLUSION: The prevalence of obesity in elderly Americans will likely continue to increase, challenging healthcare delivery and financing systems in the United States.

(C) 2004 by the American Geriatrics Society