Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Anthropometric measures and nutritional status in a healthy elderly population

Sergio Sánchez-García1, Carmen García-Peña15*, María Ximena Duque-López2, Teresa Juárez-Cedillo1, Alma Rosa Cortés-Núñez3 and Sandra Reyes-Beaman4

Author Affiliations

1 Epidemiologic and Health Service Research Unit, Aging Area. XXI Century National Medical Center; Mexican Institute of Social Security, Mexico City, Mexico

2 Nutritional Epidemiologic Research Unit. XXI Century National Medical Center; Mexican Institute of Social Security, Mexico City, Mexico

3 Epidemiologic and Health Service Research Unit. Mexican Institute of Social Security, Querétaro, México

4 Bedford Primary Care Trust, NHS, UK

5 Unidad de Investigación Epidemiológica y en Servicios de Salud, Área de Envejecimiento. Edificio Administrativo. Tercer piso. Centro Médico Nacional Siglo XXI. Avenida Cuauhtémoc no. 330, Col. Doctores. Delegación Cuauhtémoc. México DF. Código Postal 06725. México

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BMC Public Health 2007, 7:2  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-7-2

Published: 3 January 2007



Anthropometric evaluation is an essential feature of geriatric nutritional evaluation for determining malnutrition, being overweight, obesity, muscular mass loss, fat mass gain and adipose tissue redistribution. Anthropometric indicators are used to evaluate the prognosis of chronic and acute diseases, and to guide medical intervention in the elderly. We evaluated anthropometric measurements and nutritional status as they relate to age and gender in healthy elderly people.


The study analyzed data from the national survey "Health needs and health service use by older-than-60-year-old beneficiaries of the Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMSS)". The present study included only individuals who reported no chronic disease in the last 20 years and had no hospital admission in the two months prior to the survey. Anthropometric measurements included weight, height, body mass index (BMI), body circumference (arm, waist, hip and calf), waist to hip ratio (WHR), elbow amplitude and knee-heel length.


Application of the inclusion criteria resulted in a study population elderly of 1,968, representing 12.2% of the original number in the national survey in urban areas beneficiaries of the IMSS. The study population comprised 870 women and 1,098 men, with a mean age of 68.6 years. The average weights were 62.7 kg for women and 70.3 kg for men (p < 0.05), and the mean heights were 1.52 m for women and 1.63 m for men (p < 0.05). Age related changes in anthropometric values were identified. BMI values indicated that 62.3% of the population was overweight, and 73.6% of women and 16.5% of men had high fat tissue distribution.


Our findings suggest that applying the BMI thresholds that identify being overweight in the general adult population may lead to an overestimation in the number of overweight elderly Similar problems appear to exist when assessing waist circumference and WHR values. Prospective studies are required to determine the associations between health and BMI, waist circumference and WHR in the elderly.