Obesity-related comorbidities, disability, physical inactivity, and food insecurity in Georgia senior centers
Penn, Dawn Marie
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This dissertation examines the problem of obesity in older adults participating in Georgia’s Older Americans Act Nutrition Programs (OAANP) at senior centers. Three studies were conducted that focused on: 1) the influence of obesity on the prevalence of obesity-related comorbidities, 2) the extent to which moderate physical activity attenuated obesity-related comorbidities, and 3) the role of physical limitations as underlying causal factors in the food insecurity-obesity paradox. Obesity markedly increased the prevalence of diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, and poor or fair self-reported health by about 20-percentage points. Moderate physical activity did not attenuate the effects of obesity on the comorbidities, but did significantly decrease the risk of poor physical function and poor or fair self-reported health. Obesity and weight-related disability both increased the risk of food insecurity, suggesting that certain physical limitations may contribute to the food insecurity-obesity paradox in older adults. Together these studies demonstrated that obesity markedly increased the risk of several comorbidities and food insecurity, emphasizing the need for health promotion programs at senior centers to promote healthy body weights, nutrition, physical activity, food assistance, and food security.