A new study found that weight loss in older adults may increase their risk of death, especially among older men.
The study, published in JAMA Network Open on Monday, looked at 16,703 adults who were 70 years old or older in Australia and 2,411 adults in the United States who were 65 or older.
The study said the participants, who did not have cardiovascular disease (CVD), dementia, physical disability or “life-limiting” chronic illness, were weighed annually at their regular checkup appointments between 2010 and 2014.
The study ultimately found that there is a “significant association” between minor weight loss of more than five percent and mortality.
A man chooses pasta from the shelf of a shop in downtown Milan, Italy, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2007. (AP Photo / Luca Bruno)
The study found that compared with men who had a stable weight over the period, those who lost between 5 and 10 percent of weight had a 33 percent higher risk of mortality.
The men who lost more than 10 percent of weight had a 289 percent higher chance of mortality.
Compared with women who had a stable weight, women who lost between 5 and 10 percent of weight had a 26 percent higher chance of mortality, the study found.
Women who lost more than 10 percent of weight had 114 percent higher chance of mortality, according to the study.
The researchers said that the difference between men and women may be because men have a higher percentage of body muscle than body fat compared to women, who typically have more body mass of fat than men.
The study said that a “likely explanation” with the association between weight loss and mortality may be an “early prodromal indicator of the presence of various life-shortening diseases.”
Those who gained weight did not show an increased risk of mortality in the group of healthy older adults, the study said.
The research also found that the weight loss could be associated with a higher risk of a cancer diagnosis and a higher mortality risk with CVD and other life-limiting conditions.