Being overweight in your 50s may lead to longer life

By Staff Writer • Published: December 18th, 2013
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

According to new research, a little extra meat on an older person’s bones may not be so bad.

A study done by The Ohio State University discovered that people who were slightly overweight in their 50s but kept their weight relatively stable were the most likely to survive over the next 16 years. They had better survival rates than that of normal-weight people whose weight increased slightly.

Researchers analyzed data from the Health and Retirement Study, combing through the records of 9,538 participants, who were between the ages of 51 and 61 when the survey began in 1992. Respondents were interviewed every two years until 2008, keeping track of their body mass index at each check-up.

The researchers tracked the participants’ change of BMI over the 16-year period. Those who were slightly overweight, having a BMI between 25 and 29.9, and who had a steady weight over the 16 years had the highest survival rate.

The third highest rate of survival belonged to the participants who had a normal weight that increased only slightly. The most obese participants with a BMI of 35 and over who continued to gain weight had the lowest survival rate.

People over 50 are more susceptible to get illnesses and diseases, including cancer, which leads to great weight loss. The study concluded that the extra weight may provide protection against nutritional deficiencies, loss of muscle and bone density that results from chronic diseases.

Although the study discovered that a slight weight gain is acceptable, that was over a 16-year period. Continuing to gain weight after your 50s can ultimately lower your life expectancy.

So that doesn’t mean health and fitness don’t matter. Stay in shape and eat healthy. It’s the best prescription there is for a long life.