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Anthropometric measurements in the elderly: age and gender differences

  • Egle Perissinotto (a1), Claudia Pisent (a2), Giuseppe Sergi (a2), Francesco Grigoletto (a1), Giuliano Enzi (a2) and ILSA Working Group...

In clinical practice and epidemiological surveys, anthropometric measurements represent an important component of nutritional assessment in the elderly. The anthropometric standards derived from adult populations may not be appropriate for the elderly because of body composition changes occurring during ageing. Specific anthropometric reference data for the elderly are necessary. In the present study we investigated anthropometric characteristics and their relationship to gender and age in a cross-sectional sample of 3356 subjects, randomly selected from an elderly Italian population. In both sexes, weight and height significantly decreased with age while knee height did not. The BMI was significantly higher in women than in men (27·6 SD 5·7 V. 26·4 sd 3·7; P<0·001) and it was lower in the oldest than in the youngest subjects (P<0·05) of both genders. The 75th year of age was a turning point for BMI as for other anthropometric measurements. According to BMI values, the prevalence of malnutrition was lower than 5 % in both genders, whereas obesity was shown to have a higher prevalence in women than in men (28 % v. 16 %; P<0·001). Waist circumference and waist : hip ratio values were higher for the youngest men than for the oldest men (P<0·05), whereas in women the waist : hip ratio values were higher in the oldest women, suggesting that visceral redistribution in old age predominantly affects females. In conclusion, in the elderly the oldest subjects showed a thinner body frame than the youngest of both genders, and there was a more marked fat redistribution in women.

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Corresponding author
*Corresponding author: Dr E. Perissinotto, fax +39 049 827 5392, email
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