Online Program

Association between obesity and retirement: An analysis of Health and Retirement Study

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Ajmal Agha, MBBS, MPH, FCPS, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Janice C. Probst, PhD, University of South Carolina, South Carolina Rural Health Research Center, Columbia, SC

Obesity is a growing epidemic in the US. Currently, about 35% of the population are obese. Obesity is associated with chronic diseases and disability. However, there is limited research on the association between obesity and retirement.


We conducted a cross-sectional analysis of data from the 2010 wave of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS). The HRS is a biennial panel survey of a nationally-representative sample of about 20,000 Americans of age 50 years. The survey tracks the changes in economic and health conditions of the labor force toward the end of work lives and after.

Restricting to files with complete data on all variables yielded 5486 records. We took retirement as the outcome and body mass index (BMI) as main exposure. The other exposures included demographic variables (gender, age, race and religion); physical measures (pulse and blood pressure), history of common chronic diseases and coverage by Medicare or Medicaid.  


BMI was not associated with retirement status [(Overweight: AOR 1.07; 95% CI, 0.89-1.27); (Obese: AOR 0.95; 95% CI, 0.79-1.13). Most chronic diseases were positively associated with retirement, except diabetes and depression. Female were less likely to retire [AOR 0.59, 95% CI, 0.51-0.68]. People who did not have Medicare (AOR 0.18; 95% CI, 0.13-0.21) or Medicaid (AOR; 0.57, 95% CI, 0.43-0.74) coverage were less likely to be retired.


Contrary to the earlier studies, we did not find an association between obesity and retirement. We recommend fuller examination of longitudinal data to guide policies in the area.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Evaluate the association between obesity and retirement

Keyword(s): Aging, Obesity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a physician who has special interest in research and policies related to the aging population, obesity and medical care.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.