Obesity in the Context of Aging: Quality of Life Considerations
The progressive increase in the prevalence of obesity and aging in the population is resulting in increased healthcare and disability spending. The burden of obesity is particularly relevant in old age, due to accumulating co-morbidities and changes in body composition. Sarcopenic obesity, a mix of over- and under-nutrition, causes frailty, disability, and problems in social and psychological areas, impacting overall health-related quality of life (HR-QOL). The relationship between obesity, aging, and HR-QOL is, however, much more complex than generally acknowledged and is difficult to disentangle. The impact of obesity on HR-QOL is particularly strong in young people, who are free of co-morbidities. It progressively attenuates, compared with the general population, with advancing age, when co-morbid conditions are diffusely present and reduce the perceived health status, independent of obesity. However, even this apparent ‘obesity paradox’ should not minimize the importance of obesity on HR-QOL, as other obesity-associated limitations and disabilities do impact HR-QOL in older age. A patient-centered approach aimed at reducing the disability and social isolation of advancing age is mandatory to improve HR-QOL in any class of obesity.