Both being underweight and overweight can lead to reduced activity of daily living, which subsequently can require long-term care. The aim of the present study was to clarify the association between underweight/overweight and the subsequent risk of long-term care introduction.
We tracked the data of long-term care insurance for 1580 men and women aged ≥65 years who had participated in the official population-based health check-up program in 2001 in Tsunan town and Sekikawa village, Japan. The health check-up data and medical expenditure data for the fiscal year 2001 were used as baseline data. Participants were classified into underweight (body mass index (BMI) <18.5 kg/m2), normal range (BMI = 18.5 to <25.0 kg/m2) and overweight (BMI ≥25.0 kg/m2); the normal range was used as a reference category in Cox proportional hazards models.
During the average 5.8 years of follow up, 156 participants were identified to start using long-term care services. Among the young-old elderly (65–74 years-of-age), underweight was significantly associated with the risk of long-term care introduction (multivariable-adjusted HR 4.26, 95% CI 1.69–10.72), whereas overweight was not (multivariable-adjusted HR 1.45, 95% CI 0.69–3.06). Neither underweight nor overweight were significantly associated with long-term care introduction among the old-old elderly (≥75 years-of-age).
Underweight could be a good predictor of long-term care introduction in the young-old elderly. We should pay attention to underweight in the elderly, as it might be a manifestation of some physical or mental problems related to future long-term care introduction. Geriatr Gerontol Int 2014; 14: 328–335.