Monday, April 8, 2013
Older Adult Obesity: Marriage, Gender, Diabetes (Research, Video 2:28)
Question: If marriage promotes health and increases longevity, are fewer married older adults obese?
Not according to this research on older adult marriage, gender, and obesity. Using the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) including men and women aged 51-70, marriage is associated with weight gain. Leaving a marriage is associated with weight loss.
What other theories about older adult obesity should be considered?
1) Shared risk factors, such as social obligations regarding meals, increases weight for married couples, but does not last for marriage duration.
2) Marital transitions, not marital status, determine differences in body fat. Short-term effects are seen for divorce, but not for the persistent weight gains associated with marriage or the persistent weight loss following widowhood.
Question: Based on marriage and gender, who are the heaviest older adults?
3) Prominent gender differences in late middle age reveal the heaviest group is unmarried women and the lightest is unmarried men.
4) Pressures of the marriage market in combination with gendered preferences regarding partner body fat may account for differences found in this data.
Obesity is related to many health problems that reduce the quality of life for older adults. Type 2 diabetes, the most common form, is more prevalent as people grow older and gain more weight.
Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.