(HealthDay News) – In older adults, normal weight obesity (NWO) is associated with cardiac abnormalities and increased risk for cardiovascular mortality, according to research published in the Nov. 15 issue of The American Journal of Cardiology.

John A. Batsis, MD, of Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH, and colleagues examined data for a final sample of 1,528 individuals, 60 years of age or older (mean age, 70 years), to assess the association between NWO and mortality. NWO was defined as tertile with the highest percentage of body fat or cutoffs of greater than 25% body fat in men and greater than 35 percent body fat in women.

The researchers found that 27.9% and 21.4% of men, and 20.4% and 31.3% of women, had NWO based on tertiles and cutoffs, respectively. Over a median follow-up of 12.9 years, 902 deaths occurred, 46.5% of which had cardiovascular causes. With increasing tertiles of body fat, lean mass decreased and leptin levels increased. Short-term cardiovascular mortality was higher in women with NWO, and long-term cardiovascular mortality was higher in men with NWO.

“In a representative cohort of older U.S. adults, subjects with NWO are at high risk of cardiometabolic dysregulation and mortality,” the authors write.

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