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The Loess Regression Relationship Between Age and BMI for both Sydney World Masters Games Athletes and the Australian National Population

Authors: Joe Walsh, Mike Climstein, Ian Timothy Heazlewood, Stephen Burke, Jyrki Kettunen, Kent Adams, Mark DeBeliso


Thousands of masters athletes participate quadrennially in the World Masters Games (WMG), yet this cohort of athletes remains proportionately under-investigated. Due to a growing global obesity pandemic in context of benefits of physical activity across the lifespan, the BMI trends for this unique population was of particular interest. The nexus between health, physical activity and aging is complex and has raised much interest in recent times due to the realization that a multifaceted approach is necessary in order to counteract the obesity pandemic. By investigating age based trends within a population adhering to competitive sport at older ages, further insight might be gleaned to assist in understanding one of many factors influencing this relationship.BMI was derived using data gathered on a total of 6,071 masters athletes (51.9% male, 48.1% female) aged 25 to 91 years ( =51.5, s =±9.7), competing at the Sydney World Masters Games (2009). Using linear and loess regression it was demonstrated that the usual tendency for prevalence of higher BMI increasing with age was reversed in the sample. This trend in reversal was repeated for both male and female only sub-sets of the sample participants, indicating the possibility of improved prevalence of BMI with increasing age for both the sample as a whole and these individual sub-groups.This evidence of improved classification in one index of health (reduced BMI) for masters athletes (when compared to the general population) implies there are either improved levels of this index of health with aging due to adherence to sport or possibly the reduced BMI is advantageous and contributes to this cohort adhering (or being attracted) to masters sport at older ages.

Keywords: Aging, masters athlete, Quetelet Index, sport

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