• Article

Retirement and Weight Changes among Men and Women in the Health and Retirement Study

Objectives. Older adults may experience weight changes upon retirement for a number of reasons, such as being less physically active; having less structured meal times; and consuming food in response to losing personal identity, the potential for social interactions, or the sense of accomplishment derived from working. The purpose of this study was to determine whether retirement was associated with either weight gain or weight loss.

Methods. We used the 1994–2002 Health and Retirement Study to determine whether retirement between biennial interviews was associated with weight change, separately for men (n = 1,966) and women (n = 1,759). We defined weight change as a 5% increase or decrease in body mass index between interviews.

Results. We did not find a significant association between retirement and weight change among men. Women who retired were more likely to gain weight than women who continued to work at least 20 hr per week (odds ratio [OR] = 1.24, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.04–1.48). We found a significant relationship between retirement and weight gain only for women who were normal weight upon retiring (OR = 1.30, 95% CI = 1.01–1.69) and who retired from blue-collar jobs (OR = 1.58, 95% CI = 1.13–2.21).

Discussion. Public health interventions may be indicated for women, particularly those working in blue-collar occupations, in order to prevent weight gain upon retirement.


Hoffman, V., Richardson, K. K., Yankey, J. W., Hillis, S. L., Wallace, R. B., & Wolinsky, F. (2008). Retirement and Weight Changes among Men and Women in the Health and Retirement Study. Journals of Gerontology. Series B, Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 63(3), S146-S153. https://doi.org/10.1093/geronb/63.3.S146

DOI Links