Objective Telomere length has been proposed as a biomarker of biological aging. This study examined the relationship between body weight status and telomere length in U.S. middle-aged and older adults. Methods Nationally representative data (N = 2749) came from the Health and Retirement Study. Linear regressions were performed to examine the relationship between baseline body weight status reported in 1992 and telomere length measured in 2008 in the overall sample and by sex and racial/ethnic groups, adjusted for individual characteristics. Results Baseline overweight (25 kg/m2 ≤ body mass index [BMI] < 30 kg/m2) and obesity (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2) status positively predicted telomere length 17 years later. Compared with their normal weight counterparts, telomere length ratio was on average 0.062 (95% confidence interval = 0.016, 0.109) and 0.125 (0.048, 0.202) larger among overweight and obese adults, respectively. In comparison to women and racial/ethnic minorities, the estimated positive associations between overweight and obesity status and telomere length were more salient among men and non-Hispanic whites, respectively. Conclusions The positive association between body weight status and telomere length found in this study was opposite to what existing biological model predicts, and could partially relate to the nonlinear relationship between body weight status and telomere length across age cohorts, and/or the lack of reliability of BMI as an indicator for adiposity in the older population. Large-scale longitudinal studies with baseline telomere length measures are warranted to replicate this study finding and explore the potential heterogeneous relationship between body weight status and telomere length.
- Body weight status
- Older adult
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Nutrition and Dietetics