Obesity, Disability Rise in Latin Elderly

GALVESTON, Texas, July 30 (UPI) — University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston researchers say obesity rates in Latin America and the Caribbean are rising, along with disability rates.

The study, published in American Journal of Epidemiology, finds in six major cities — including Havana — obese seniors more likely to have significant trouble walking and doing daily tasks. The study suggests there is a need to prevent obesity in these populations.

“This greater prevalence of obesity is a new thing in Latin America and the Caribbean, the result of people moving from rural to urban areas and shifting their nutritional habits and other aspects of their lives to a more Western pattern,” lead author Soham Al Snih says in a statement. “At the same time, we’re seeing a substantial increase in life expectancy.”

Snih and colleagues analyzed data from a Pan-American Health Organization and National Institute on Aging survey that included more than 6,000 people age 65 and older in six major cities in Barbados, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Mexico and Uruguay. A body mass index — a measure combining height and weight — of 30 or more was considered obese.

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