Weight control may help women live longer

Maintaining a healthy weight may help women live to 90, 95, or 100.

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As women get older, they need to keep their weight steady. This helps them live longer and have a better life overall. Taking care of their weight is especially important for older women. People usually think about having the right weight when they’re younger, but it’s still essential when they’re older.

A study by the University of California San Diego found that women who kept their body weight steady after age 60 were likelier to live to 90, 95, or even 100 years old. This study involved over 54,000 women in the Women’s Health Initiative, which looks at health in older women. The research showed that those who didn’t lose weight as they got older were 1.2 to 2 times more likely to live a very long time than those who lost 5 percent or more of their weight.

Out of all the women in the study, about 56 percent, more than half, lived to 90 or older. The study discovered that women who unintentionally lost 5 percent of their weight were 51 percent less likely to live to 90. However, gaining 5 percent or more weight didn’t affect how long they lived compared to those who stayed at a stable weight. This information was published online on August 29, 2023, in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences.

First author Aladdin H. Shadyab, Ph.D., M.P.H., associate professor at the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science at U.C. San Diego, said, “It is prevalent for older women in the United States to experience overweight or obesity with a body mass index range of 25 to 35. Our findings support stable weight as a goal for longevity in older women.” 

If aging women find themselves losing weight when they are not trying to lose weight, this could be a warning sign of ill health and a predictor of decreased longevity.”

The study shows that older women might not live longer if they try to lose weight. But if a doctor suggests losing weight for health reasons, they should listen. This research adds to what we know about how weight affects how long people live. This is the first significant study that examined weight changes later in life and how they’re connected to living a very long time.

In conclusion, the benefits of maintaining a stable weight among older women are undeniable. From reducing the risk of chronic diseases to promoting cognitive function and preserving physical mobility, weight management is vital in extending longevity and enhancing the overall well-being of older women. Emphasizing the significance of weight stability in healthcare strategies for older women can pave the way for a healthier and more fulfilling aging process.

Journal Reference:

  1. Aladdin H Shadyab, Ph.D., JoAnn E Manson, MD, DrPH, et al., Association of Later-Life Weight Changes With Survival to Ages 90, 95, and 100: The Women’s Health Initiative. Gerontology. DOI: 10.1093/gerona/glad177.
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