We have examined the relationship between intentional and unintentional weight loss and the reasons underlying intention to lose weight and all-cause mortality and mortality due to cardiovascular disease (CVD) and non-CVD causes in older men.
Prospective study of 4869 men aged 56 to 75 years drawn from general practices in 24 British towns, who in 1996 completed questionnaires about intentional and unintentional weight loss over the preceding 4 years and were followed up for a subsequent 7 years.
Unintentional but not intentional weight loss was associated with a significant increase in risk of all-cause mortality compared with men who reported no weight change, even after adjustment for lifestyle characteristics and preexisting disease (adjusted relative risk [RR], 1.71; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.33-2.19; and RR, 1.00; 95% CI, 0.91-1.10, respectively). Men who lost weight intentionally as a result of personal choice showed significant benefit in all-cause mortality (RR, 0.59; 95% CI, 0.34-1.00; P = .05), which was largely owing to a significant reduction in mortality from non-CVD causes (RR, 0.36; 95% CI, 0.15-0.87). The benefit in these men was most apparent in markedly overweight men (BMI [calculated as weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters] > or = 28) and in younger men (age < 65 years). Men who lost weight intentionally owing to ill health or physician's advice showed an increased risk of all-cause mortality (RR, 1.37; 95% CI, 0.96-1.94). No harm or benefit was seen for CVD mortality, irrespective of reasons for intentional weight loss.
Intentional weight loss carried out for personal reasons is associated with a significant reduction in all-cause mortality in markedly overweight men, and the data suggest that the earlier the intervention, the greater the chance of benefit.