Report: Elderly gain girth

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It now appears that Grandma Betty is getting bigger. A new report warns that age-related body changes, in combination with the increasing prevalence of obesity, have yielded a fatter elderly population.

Men and women approaching 80 gained fat and lost lean mass each year, according to researchers from Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, Winston-Salem, NC. They studied 1,786 healthy adults in their 70s from 1997 to 2003. Younger subjects who spent more years during the era when obesity was increasing had a higher percentage of body fat than older subjects.

Increased fat mass and decreased lean mass in elderly people could conspire to cause a host of health problems, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, researchers say.