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Does obesity lead to more nursing home admission and a lower quality of care?

June 01, 2016

In a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, researchers examined the care that obese older adults receive when they are admitted to nursing homes.

This study was designed to find out whether obese older adults were as likely as non-obese elders to be admitted to nursing homes that provided an appropriate level of care. Those who are obese (people who have a body mass index score of 30 or higher) may require nursing homes with specialized equipment, beds, and lifting devices, for example. Nursing homes also may need to have bedrooms and other spaces designed to accommodate heavier residents. What's more, since older obese adults may require extra help in performing daily activities, nursing home staffers may need to devote extra time to their care.

The researchers examined 164,256 records of obese people aged 65 or older who were admitted to nursing homes over a two-year period. They also examined the nursing homes' total number of deficiency citations and quality-of-care deficiencies to determine the quality of care that the homes provided.

The researchers reported that about 22 percent of older adults admitted to nursing homes were obese. Nearly 4 percent were considered morbidly obese. Nursing homes that admitted a higher number of obese residents were more likely to have a higher number of deficiencies.

The researchers discovered that nursing homes that admitted more morbidly obese residents were also more likely to have more severe deficiencies in care. The researchers said that their study raises concerns about creating equal opportunities for obese elders to gain access to nursing homes that provide the highest quality of care.


This summary is from "Are Obese Residents More Likely to be Admitted to Nursing Homes with More Deficiencies in Care?" It appears online ahead of print in the May 2016 issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. The study authors are Ning Zhang, PhD; Yue Li, PhD; Rosa Rodriguez-Monguio, PhD; Andrew Barenberg, MS; Helena Temkin-Greener, PhD; and Jerry Gurwitz, MD.

About the Health in Aging Foundation

This research summary was developed as a public education tool by the Health in Aging Foundation. The Foundation is a national non-profit established in 1999 by the American Geriatrics Society to bring the knowledge and expertise of geriatrics healthcare professionals to the public. We are committed to ensuring that people are empowered to advocate for high-quality care by providing them with trustworthy information and reliable resources. Last year, we reached nearly 1 million people with our resources through We also help nurture current and future geriatrics leaders by supporting opportunities to attend educational events and increase exposure to principles of excellence on caring for older adults. For more information or to support the Foundation's work, visit

American Geriatrics Society

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