RESEARCH PAPER
Effect of body weight on disability and chronic disease rates in the elderly in south-eastern Poland
 
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Department of Medicine, University of Rzeszow, Rzeszow, Poland
CORRESPONDING AUTHOR
Agnieszka Wiśniowska-Szurlej   

Uniwersytet Rzeszowski, Warszawska 26A, 35-205, Rzeszów, Poland
 
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ABSTRACT
Introduction and objective:
The rapid aging of the human population is an increasing challenge to public health. Effective strategies are required to prevent disability and dependency of the elderly. This study aimed to evaluate the effect of body weight on the prevalence of disability and chronic diseases among 60–80-year-old people living in south-eastern Poland.

Material and methods:
The study included 1,800 randomly selected people aged 60–80 years living in the Podkarpackie region of south-eastern Poland. Respondents, holders of a – personal identification number (PESEL), were randomly drawn by the Ministry of Interior and Administration (MSWiA) in Poland. The study was conducted in the form of a face-to-face interview at the respondent’s residence. The WHODAS 2.0 questionnaire was used to assess disability and functioning. Socio-demographic data were also collected, and the body weight measured in 5% of the respondents after completion of the study. Statistical analysis was performed using Statistica 10.

Results:
Respondents with Body Mass Index (BMI) < 18.5 and BMI ≥ 35.0 had significantly higher disability levels than those in the normal weight and overweight categories. The greatest limitations were found in participating in everyday life, household activities, getting along and mobility. There was also a statistically significant relationship between BMI and the number of chronic diseases (p < 0.001).

Conclusions:
When planning a healthcare strategy for people aged 60 –80 living in Poland, additional support should be provided to those at risk in the categories of underweight and obesity. The obtained findings indicate that the health behaviour of seniors should be assessed – especially regarding their diet and eating habits, physical activity, and participation in social life – in order to tailor prevention programmes specifically to their needs.

 
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