Even senior citizens who are at a healthy weight now could be facing mobility problems and may be considering assisted living because of weight gain earlier in life, a new study reports.
For women who were overweight or obese at age 50 but then lost weight by age 70, researchers at Wake Forest University found that they were 2.7 times more likely to develop difficulties in mobility than those who had maintained a normal weight throughout their lives.
Men were two times more likely to develop similar limitations given the same circumstances.
Senior citizens were gauged based on how difficult they found walking a quarter-mile distance or climbing one flight of stairs.
"The dramatic increase in overweight and obesity in the U.S. may reverse declines [in physical disability] and may lead to an increase in physical disability among future generations of older adults," warned Dr Denise Houston, the study's lead author.
The problem with seniors who have reached healthier weight as the years have passed is that the weight loss was most likely "involuntary," and may have caused structural problems that would lead to mobility problems.