Older People with a Few Extra Pounds are Healthier

Saturday 30th January 2010

According to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society, those older people who carry around a few extra pounds could in fact be healthier than those of a more “normal” weight. The study, as conducted by the University of Western Australia, could provide a compelling excuse for all those men and women who have tirelessly dieted throughout their lives. 

Studying around 9,200 elderly people (between the ages of 70 and 75) the volunteers were monitored over a ten year period for things such as mortality, body mass index (BMI), cardiovascular problems, inactive lifestyles and so on. Professor Leon Flicker, lead researcher of the project, revealed the results as showing the vast difference that appears between health and lifestyle benefits in the elderly and the young. Throughout the study, the death rates were monitored amongst the group which revealed that those with a classification of “overweight” from their BMI were in fact at a 13% lower risk of dying. Not only that but they were also found to have lower risks of developing certain diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and chronic respiratory disease. However, the results don’t give incentive for the elderly to sit back and relax with a slice of cheesecake, as emphasis was also placed on the importance of exercise. Of the volunteers who lived very inactive lifestyles their mortality rate was increased by 25% for men and doubled for women.

Whilst the study does provide some promise of a little more allowance for cake for the elderly than the young; it does also stress that a little extra weight is not a great concern if it is alongside exercise. However, doctors haven’t drawn a firm line under these results as they feel the need to assess the categorization of BMI’s for the elderly as the same categories for the young and the elderly may not be accurate. This is due to the categories being produced from the assessment of BMI’s, mortality rates and so on in young adults and middle aged volunteers. Authors of the study are concerned that the BMI of the elderly may not give a fair indication of fatty mass within the age group.


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