Article | Published:

Epidemiology and Population Health

Weight change in relation to mortality in middle-aged and elderly Chinese: the Singapore Chinese Health Study

International Journal of Obesity (2018) | Download Citation

Abstract

Objectives

To examine the association between weight change and mortality in middle-aged and elderly Chinese.

Methods

We used data from the Singapore Chinese Health Study among 36 338 participants aged 45 to 74 years at recruitment (1993–1998). Weight change was computed as the difference between weights at baseline and the follow-up 1 (1999–2004) surveys and classified as moderate-to-large weight loss (≥10%), small weight loss (5.1–9.9%), stable weight (±5%), small weight gain (5.1–9.9%) and moderate-to-large weight gain (≥10%). The participants were free of cancer and cardiovascular disease (CVD) at the follow-up 1 survey and were followed for mortality through linkage with the Singapore Birth and Death Registry.

Results:

Until 31 December 2016, a total of 7551 deaths were identified during 517 128 person-years of follow-up (mean follow-up: 14.2 years). Compared to those with stable weight, significantly increased risk of all-cause mortality was found for participants with moderate-to-large weight loss (hazard ratio [HR]: 1.39; 95% CI: 1.30, 1.49), small loss (1.14; 1.06, 1.22), and moderate-to-large gain (1.13; 1.05, 1.22). Moderate-to-large weight loss was significantly associated with increased risk of mortality from CVD (including both ischemic heart disease and stroke) and respiratory disease, while moderate-to-large weight gain was significantly associated with CVD mortality. Associations were generally consistent in stratified analyses by sex, age groups (<60 and ≥60 years old), smoking status (never, former and current smoking), and baseline body mass index (<23 and ≥23 kg/m2), although significant effect modifications were found for certain strata.

Conclusions

Our findings showed that both moderate-to-large weight gain and loss conferred excess risk for all-cause and CVD mortality in middle-aged and elderly Chinese, with slightly higher risk for weight loss than weight gain. However, it remains to be examined in clinical trials whether maintaining stable body weight should be proposed to reduce mortality risk in middle-aged and elderly populations.

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Acknowledgements

We thank Siew-Hong Low of the National University of Singapore for supervising the fieldwork in the Singapore Chinese Health Study and Renwei Wang for the maintenance of the cohort study database. We thank the Ministry of Health in Singapore for assistance with the identification of deaths from cirrhosis and other causes via database linkages. This study was supported by the National Institutes of Health, USA (R01 CA144034 and UM1 CA182876). W-P Koh is supported by the National Medical Research Council, Singapore (NMRC/CSA/0055/2013). A Pan is supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2017YFC0907504). XF Pan is supported by the 2018 Australian Endeavour Research Fellowship (69362018). The sponsors have no role in the study design, and collection, analysis or interpretation of data.

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Affiliations

  1. Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Ministry of Education Key Laboratory of Environment and Health and State Key Laboratory of Environmental Health (incubation), School of Public Health, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, Hubei Province, China

    • Xiong-Fei Pan
    •  & An Pan
  2. Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

    • Jian-Min Yuan
  3. Department of Epidemiology, Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

    • Jian-Min Yuan
  4. Health Services and Systems Research, Duke-NUS Medical School, Singapore, Republic of Singapore

    • Woon-Puay Koh
  5. Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, National University of Singapore and National University Health System, Singapore, Republic of Singapore

    • Woon-Puay Koh

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Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Woon-Puay Koh or An Pan.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/s41366-018-0259-y