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A pilot study of allostatic load among elderly Japanese living on Hizen-Oshima Island

Douglas E Crews1*, Hajime Harada2, Kiyoshi Aoyagi3, Takahiro Maeda3, Alexandria Alfarano1, Yoshiaki Sone4 and Yosuke Kusano5

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Anthropology, The Ohio State University, 4034 Smith Laboratory, 174 W. 18th Avenue, Columbus, OH (43210-1106), USA

2 Department of Creative Design, Tohoku Institute of Technology, 6 Futatsuzawa, Taihaku-ku, Sendai-shi, Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, 982-8588, Japan

3 Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Department of Public Health, School of Medicine, Nagasaki University, 1-12-4 Sakamoto, Nagasaki, 852-8523, Japan

4 Department of Food and Nutrition, Osaka City University, 3-138, Sugimoto 3-Chome Sumiyoshi, Osaka, 558-8585, Japan

5 Department of Community Development, Nagasaki Wesleyan University, 1212-1 Nishi-Eida-machi, Isahaya-shi, Nagasaki Prefecture, Isahaya, 854-0082, Japan

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Journal of Physiological Anthropology 2012, 31:18  doi:10.1186/1880-6805-31-18

Published: 25 June 2012



Between July and September 2005, a preliminary sampling of the elderly population of Hizen-Oshima Island, Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan was conducted by the local hospital’s nursing staff.


Reported here are preliminary results from this sample of 27 individuals with an average age of 71 years. Their ages ranged from 51 to 82 years, with a standard deviation (sd) of 7.4 years. In total, 33 aspects of physical and physiological variation were assessed on these 15 women and 12 men. As expected from previous studies of Japanese elders, our sample shows slightly elevated average blood pressure (142/81 mmHg, sd 16/10), but they are relatively lean (waist/hip = .9: sd 0.06) when compared to European or American standards. However, their average total cholesterol (TC = 210 mg/dl, sd = 42.8) is high compared to standards, as is their high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDLc = 55.4 mg/dl, sd = 15.1). Means, standard deviations (sd), ranges and upper bounds for quartile cut-points for all 10 variables used in the calculation of allostatic load (AL) were assessed. The overall average estimate for AL in this sample is 3.1 (sd = 1.58) and ranges from 1 to 7.


AL shows variability across men and women, has little correlation with age, and is associated with physiological variation in blood glucose, dopamine and uric acid.

Senescence; Aging; Functional loss; Activities of daily living; Asian; Disability