Cognitive function, body mass index and mortality in a rural elderly Chinese cohort

Sujuan Gao, Yinlong Jin, Frederick W. Unverzagt, Yibin Cheng, Liqin Su, Chenkun Wang, Feng Ma, Ann M. Hake, Carla Kettler, Chen Chen, Jingyi Liu, Jianchao Bian, Ping Li, Jill R. Murrell, Daniel O. Clark, Hugh C. Hendrie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


Background: Previous studies have shown that poor cognition and low body mass index were associated with increased mortality. But few studies have investigated the association between cognition and mortality across the entire cognitive spectrum while adjusting for BMI. The objective of this study is to examine the associations between cognitive function, BMI and 7-year mortality in a rural elderly Chinese cohort. Methods: A prospective cohort of 2,000 Chinese age 65 and over from four rural counties in China were followed for 7-years. Cognitive function, BMI and other covariate information were obtained at baseline. Cox's proportional hazard models were used to determine the effects of cognitive function and BMI on mortality risk. Results: Of participants enrolled, 473 (23.7%) died during follow-up. Both lower cognitive function (HR = 1.48, p = 0.0049) and lower BMI (HR = 1.6, p < 0.0001) were independently associated with increased mortality risk compared to individuals with average cognitive function and normal weight. Higher cognitive function was associated with lower mortality risk (HR = 0.69, p = 0.0312). We found no significant difference in mortality risk between overweight/obese participants and those with normal weight. Conclusions: Cognitive function and BMI were independent predictors of mortality risk. Intervention strategies for increasing cognitive function and maintaining adequate BMI may be important in reducing morality risk in the elderly population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9
JournalArchives of Public Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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