The secret to living past 90? It’s NOT losing weight, new study finds

A new study sponsored by the University of California San Diego reveals an unexpected secret to reaching ages 90, 95 or even 100: maintaining your body weight after the age of 60. 

This phenomenon, known as extraordinary longevity, was found to be more likely for women who kept a consistent weight during their later years [1]. Older women who managed to maintain their weight were 1.2 to 2 times more likely to achieve this exceptional milestone than those who lost 5% or more.

The study, conducted across multiple institutions, delved into the relationship between weight changes later in life and the possibility of living exceptionally long.

The focus was on 54,437 women who participated in the Women’s Health Initiative, a comprehensive study to understand the origins of chronic illnesses among postmenopausal women. Among these participants, 56% (about 30,647 individuals) reached the impressive age of 90 or older.

What the study found was striking: women who intentionally lost at least 5% of their body weight were more likely not to achieve this impressive longevity [2].

For example, those who experienced unintended weight loss were 51% less likely to reach 90. However, gaining 5% or more weight beyond a steady weight didn’t influence extraordinary longevity.

Aladdin H Shadyab, PhD MPH, an associate professor at UC San Diego’s Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science and the study’s lead author, commented on the findings.

He pointed out that many older women in the United States tend to fall within the body mass index range of 25 to 35, categorizing them as overweight or obese.

The study suggests that maintaining a stable weight could foster longevity among older women. Researchers cautioned that unexpected weight loss among aging women could be a warning sign for potential health issues and predict reduced longevity [3].

The study’s results challenge that weight loss is a universal prescription for promoting longer lives among older women. However, per a UC San Diego Today release, researchers highlight that if there’s a medical recommendation for moderate weight loss to enhance health, women should adhere to it.

In essence, the study shifts the focus from weight loss to weight maintenance in pursuing exceptional longevity for older women.

Find additional information about this study from Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences.


Photograph: oneinchpunchphotos/Envato
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