I believe that it is important to be active I do not believe that it is important to be thin in our senior years.
A study published in the 2008 Journal of the American Geriatrics Society set out to determine just that. Researchers collected BMI data of almost 6,000 adult participants, all older than age 65, over multiple years. They paid special attention to when a person would move from “healthy” weight to overweight, or from overweight to obese. Any movement in the other direction (from obese to overweight, for example) was also tracked. They tried to link these changes in weight category with various health conditions. This is what they found:
Women who did not have any health conditions and were at a “healthy” weight at age 65 had a life expectancy of 22.1 more years. They spend an average of 9.6 of those years overweight and 5.3 in fair or poor health.
Being underweight at age 65 was linked to poor health and shorter life expectancy.
Being overweight or obese at 65 was only rarely linked to worse health outcomes or lower life expectancy, compared to those who were at a “healthy” weight at age 65. (Sometimes the overweight and obese had better health outcomes).
So, Does That Mean we can overeat? Hardly. Remember that these folks made it to 65 in relatively good health. They could be lucky or genetically immune to the effects of being overweight or obese. What may end up happening is that the “healthy” weight range for a 65-year-old may be higher that a “healthy” weight for a younger person. After all, why should we apply the same weight range for everyone aged 18 to 118?
Much more data is needed before we truly understand the impact of weight on aging. We can be pretty sure that most chronic health conditions are made worse by being overweight and that being overweight puts a person at risk for many serious conditions (again, remember that the folks in this study made it to 65 in good health).
I researched this because one of the risk factors for osteoporosis is being thin. I do not want to be thin.
Age pride is pride in every age, devoid of ageism. 🖌 The creator is Gray Nomad travel writer. As artist Ryn Shell, she's spent decades painting and staging art exhibitions around Australia. She is a former Artist in School Program and current 'Artist in Residence,' in assisted living aged care.
Ryn, above, enjoying the gray (gray with an a for active) nomad life at age 64.
Gray Nomad Reg Shell walking 12,000 steps a day beside the Balone River, at age 70.
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