To study the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and mortality among 75-year-olds with and without diabetes mellitus type 2 (DM) or impaired fasting glucose (IFG).
Prospective population-based cohort study with a 10-year follow-up.
A random sample of 618 of the 1100 inhabitants born in 1922 and living in the city of Västerås in 1997 were invited to participate in a cardiovascular health survey; 70% of those invited agreed to participate (432 individuals: 210 men, 222 women).
All-cause and cardiovascular mortality.
163 of 432 (38%) participants died during the 10-year follow-up period. The prevalence of DM or IFG was 41% (35% among survivors, 48% among non-survivors). The prevalence of obesity/overweight/normal weight/underweight according to WHO definitions was 12/45/42/1% (14/43/42/1% among survivors, 9/47/42/2% among non-survivors). The hazard rate for death decreased by 10% for every kg/m2 increase in BMI in individuals with DM/IFG (HR 0.91, 95% CI 0.86 to 0.97; p=0.003). After adjustment for sex, current smoking, diagnosed hypertension, diagnosed angina pectoris, previous myocardial infarction and previous stroke/transient ischaemic attack, the corresponding decrease in mortality was 9% (HR 0.92, 95% CI 0.86 to 0.99; p=0.017). These findings remained after exclusion of individuals with BMI<20 or those who died within 2-year follow-up. In individuals without DM/IFG, BMI had no effect on mortality (HR 1.01, 95% CI 0.95 to 1.07; p=0.811). The HR for BMI differed significantly between individuals with and without DM/IFG (p interaction=0.025). The increased all-cause mortality in individuals with DM/IFG in combination with lower BMI was driven by cardiovascular death.
High all-cause and cardiovascular mortality was associated with lower BMI in 75-year-olds with DM/IFG but not in those without DM/IFG. Further studies on the combined effect of obesity/overweight and DM/IFG are needed in order to assess the appropriateness of current guideline recommendations for weight reduction in older people with DM/IFG.
To explore the combined effect of hyperglycaemia and body mass index (BMI) on all-cause and cardiovascular mortality in the elderly.
There was a significant inverse relationship in 75-year-olds with type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM) or impaired fasting glucose (IFG) between BMI and rate of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality.
An obesity paradox or reverse epidemiology was found in 75-year-olds with DM or IFG.
Further studies on the combined effect of obesity/overweight and DM/IFG are needed in order to assess current guidelines for weight reduction in older people with DM/IFG.
Strengths and limitations of this study
Restricting our investigation to one age group enabled us to omit age as a confounding factor, allowing meaningful estimation of the relationship between all-cause and cardiovascular mortality and BMI in individuals with and without hyperglycaemia, despite the relatively small number of study participants. Furthermore, because of the high participation rate, the participants are more representative of the population in a defined geographical area than described in most other studies on this topic. These advantages are, however, offset by difficulty in generalising our findings to those in other age groups and from other geographical areas. Nevertheless, it seems likely that our results are applicable to Northern Europeans and white North Americans in their seventies.
A further limitation of the study is the fact that mortality among invited individuals who did not participate in the study (30%) was considerably higher than among those who participated (70%), mainly reflecting a higher prevalence of diseases under treatment among non-participants.