On the other hand, weight gain was not significantly associated with mortality among men. “The study suggests that weight loss was associated with an increase in mortality, particularly among men, highlighting the need to monitor and investigate weight loss in older adults, Sultana Monira Hussain, from Monash University in Victoria, Australia, along with authors wrote in the paper.
The study looked at nearly 16,523 adults at least 70 years old in Australia and more than 2,000 adults in the US who were at least 65 years old.
The findings, published in JAMA Network Open, showed that loss of 5 to 10 per cent of body weight among men was associated with a 33 per cent. Loss of more than 10 per cent of body weight was linked to 289 per cent increase in mortality.
The change in body size associated with increased mortality risk was also seen among elderly women.
Among women, loss of 5 to 10 per cent of body weight was associated with 26 per cent, while loss of more than 10 per cent of body weight resulted in a 114 per cent increase in mortality.
The researchers explained that weight loss can also be an early indicator of the presence of various life-shortening diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular diseases, among others.
“The study of healthy older adults suggests that weight loss was associated with an increase in all-cause and cause-specific mortality, including an increased risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other life-limiting conditions. Physicians should be aware of the significance of weight loss, especially among older men,” the researchers said.
Further they noted that the weight loss associated with mortality among men may be the result of the different body composition characteristics of men and women.
For men, a higher proportion of body mass consists of muscle and bone mass, whereas for women, a higher proportion of body mass is composed of fat.
If weight loss preceding chronic illness is predominantly loss of muscle mass and bone mass, it could explain the differences observed between men and women. Something similar might be at work to explain why weight loss, rather than decrease of waist circumference, is more associated with mortality.