Is Lean Always Better? Body Fat and Mortality Not Linked In Older Women

Jennifer W. Bea, PhD Assistant Professor, Medicine Assistant Research Scientist, Nutritional Sciences University of Arizona Cancer Center Tucson, AZ 85724-0524MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Jennifer W. Bea, PhD
Assistant Professor, Medicine
Assistant Research Scientist, Nutritional Sciences
University of Arizona Cancer Center
Tucson, AZ 85724-0524

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Bea: The analysis was based on a subgroup of the largest study of post-menopausal women in the United States, Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), which has been answering important questions about health and wellness among post-menopausal women since the 1990s. In the analysis, body mass index, a proxy for body fat, and actual body composition (i.e. fat and muscle mass) determined by an imaging technique called dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) were used to predict risk of death. In the younger post-menopausal women,  aged 50–59 years, higher body fat increased risk of death by more than 2 times and the highest muscle mass decreased risk of death by almost 60%. Importantly, the relationships were reversed among the older women, aged 70–79 years (P < 0.05). These results were true in spite of BMIs in these groups spanning nearly the full range of possible BMIs (16.4–69.1kg/m2). These data indicate that BMI does not estimate mortality risk as well as we would hope among post- menopausal women.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Bea: Clinicians should consider obtaining body composition information from DXA instead of relying solely on body mass index (BMI, weight/height2) to assess risk of death among post-menopausal women and to determine if interventions are warranted.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Bea: This analysis of post-menopausal women needs to be repeated in other populations, such as men, different age groups, and different racial/ethnic groups, to better understand if body composition assessments are prudent in other groups.

 Citation:

Jennifer W. Bea, Cynthia A. Thomson, Betsy C. Wertheim, J. Skye Nicholas,Kacey C. Ernst, Chengcheng Hu, Rebecca D. Jackson, Jane A. Cauley,Cora E. Lewis, Bette Caan, Denise J. Roe, and Zhao Chen

Risk of Mortality According to Body Mass Index and Body Composition Among Postmenopausal Women
Am. J. Epidemiol. first published online September 7, 2015 doi:10.1093/aje/kwv103

MedicalResearch.com is not a forum for the exchange of personal medical information, advice or the promotion of self-destructive behavior (e.g., eating disorders, suicide). While you may freely discuss your troubles, you should not look to the Website for information or advice on such topics. Instead, we recommend that you talk in person with a trusted medical professional.

The information on MedicalResearch.com is provided for educational purposes only, and is in no way intended to diagnose, cure, or treat any medical or other condition. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health and ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. In addition to all other limitations and disclaimers in this agreement, service provider and its third party providers disclaim any liability or loss in connection with the content provided on this website.

Jennifer W. Bea, PhD (2015). Is Lean Always Better? Body Fat and Mortality Not Linked In Older Women 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.