Body mass index and 12-year mortality among older Mexican Americans aged 75 years and older

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Background: The role of obesity in mortality in the very old and old-oldest Hispanic population has not been studied. The objective of this study was to examine the effect of body mass index (BMI) on 12-year mortality among older Mexican Americans aged 75 years and older. Methods: Twelve year prospective cohort study consisting of a population-based sample of 1415 non-institutionalized Mexican American men and women aged 75 and older from 5 southwestern states: Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas. Data was from Wave 5 of the Hispanic Established Population for the Epidemiologic Study of the Elderly (2004/2005–2016). Socio-demographics, body mass index (BMI), self-reported medical conditions, disability, depressive symptoms, falls, Mini-Mental-State-Examination (MMSE), and Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB) were assessed at baseline during 2004–2005. BMI (Kg/m2) was classified as underweight (< 18.5), normal weight (18.5 to < 25), overweight (25 to < 30), obesity category I (30 to < 35), and obesity category II/morbid obesity (≥ 35). For assessment of mortality, deaths were ascertained through the National Death Index and report from relatives. Cox proportional hazards regression analysis was performed to estimate the hazard ratio (HR) of 12-year mortality as a function of BMI categories at baseline. Results: The mean BMI was 27.5 ± 1.7 with participants classified as 1.8% underweight, 30.8% normal weight, 39.2% overweight, 20.7% obesity category I, and 7.6% obesity category II/morbid obesity. Mexican Americans aged ≥75 years with overweight or obesity category I had a reduced HR of death (0.82, 95% CI = 0.70–0.96 and 0.75, 95% CI = 0.62–0.91, respectively) over 12-years of follow-up. The HR of death for underweight and obesity category II/morbid obesity participants was 1.59 (95% CI = 1.03–2.45) and 1.12 (95% CI = 0.85–1.46), respectively. Female participants and those with high scores in the MMSE and SPPB had decreased risk of death. Conclusions: This study showed the protective effect of overweight and obesity on mortality in Mexican Americans above 75 years of age, which might have implications when treating older adults with overweight and obesity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number236
JournalBMC Geriatrics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Hispanic
  • Mexican American
  • Mortality
  • Obesity
  • Oldest old

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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