Study finds excess body fat when you're older may shorten your life

Study finds excess body fat when you're older may shorten your life

Step away from the cake again! A new study appears to contradict recent research that concluded elderly people carrying a bit of extra weight live longer.

This study, done by Adventist Health Studies, suggests people who are overweight in their 70s, may live a few years less than those who maintained a normal weight.

Specifically, the study found: Men over 75 with a body mass index (BMI) over 22.3 had a 3.7-year shorter life expectancy.

Women over 75 with a BMI greater than 27.4 had a 2.1-year shorter life expectancy.

A BMI of 30 and over is considered obese, and a BMI of 24-29.9 is considered overweight.

The study followed 6,030 Seventh Day Adventist adults who never smoked, and who were free of major chronic diseases at the time of enrollment, according to a Loma Linda University news release.
It goes on to state: The study’s lead author, Pramil Singh, an associate professor at the School of Public Health at Loma Linda University, said data from many past studies is problematic because it didn’t account for weight changes or how weight changes can affect life expectancy.

And most past studies had mortality surveillance of fewer than 19 years, Singh said. This study included 29 years of follow-up and multiple measures of body weight.

Researchers found men had a higher sensitivity to body fat than women, and started to experience a greater risk of death at a BMI of 22.3, while the risk for women didn’t start until their BMI hit 27.4.

The extra weight isn’t good for women over 75, Singh said, but the negative effects in women over 75 appear at a higher weight than in men.

The study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Source: Aug. 3, 2011 Loma Linda University news release

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