Disability and self-rated health among older women and men in rural Guatemala: the role of obesity and chronic conditions
Yount, K.M.; Hoddinott, J.; Stein, A.D.
Social Science and Medicine 71(8): 1418-1427
ISSN/ISBN: 1873-5347 PMID: 20813446 DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2010.06.046
Unprecedented population aging in poorer settings is coinciding with the rapid spread of obesity and other chronic conditions. These conditions predict disability and poor self-rated health and often are more prevalent in women than men. Thus, gender gaps in obesity and other chronic conditions may account for older women's greater disability and worse self-rated health in poor, rural populations, where aging, obesity, and chronic conditions are rapidly emerging. In a survey of 604 adults 50 years and older in rural Guatemala, we assessed whether gender gaps in obesity and other chronic conditions accounted for gender gaps in disability and self-rated health. Obesity strongly predicted gross mobility (GM) disability, and the number of chronic conditions strongly predicted all outcomes, especially in women. Controlling for gender gaps in body-mass index (BMI) and especially the number of chronic conditions eliminated gender gaps in GM disability, and controlling for gender gaps in the number of chronic conditions eliminated gender gaps in self-rated health. We recommend conducting longitudinal cohort studies to explore interventions that may mitigate adult obesity and chronic conditions among poor, rural older adults. Such interventions also may reduce gender gaps in later-life disability and self-rated health.