Background: The elderly obese are at increased risk of mortality and morbidity of many obesity-related chronic diseases, such as hypertension, diabetes and coronary heart disease. This study was designed to investigate the epidemiological features of overweight and obesity in older rural Chinese.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted during 2004–2005, which undertook multistage cluster sampling method to select a representative sample in Fuxin county, Liaoning province, China. A total of 6643 elderly persons with age ≥60 years was examined. At baseline, lifestyle and other factors were obtained. Overweight and obesity were defined according to the World Health Organization classification and Chinese criteria, respectively.
Results: Overall, using World Health Organization criteria, the prevalence of overweight and obesity were 13.8 and 1.7%, respectively. Using Chinese criteria, the corresponding figures were 21.2 and 4.0%, respectively. Multivariate logistic regression showed that women, Mongolian nationality, high levels of education and current drinking status were risk factors for overweight or obese participants. Increasing age, high levels of physical activity and current smoking status were shown as protective factors. A positive association was also observed between body mass index and female sex, Mongolian nationality, education levels and current drinking status. However, there was an inverse association between body mass index and age, physical activity levels and current smoking status.
Conclusion: Although the prevalence of obesity was low, the prevalence of overweight was relatively high in older rural Chinese, especially in female adults. Unfavourable lifestyles, gender, age, ethnicity, education levels and physical activity were associated with the prevalence of these health conditions.