Midlife weight gain could mean midlife crisis. A study at Harvard School of Public Health says that women who are overweight do not live as long as women who are healthy and fit.
The study also suggests that women who are obese in middle age not only have a shorter life span but almost 80 percent more likely to have multiple health problems by the time they reach age 70.
The study appears to be the first to look at the effect of putting on weight during one’s life on the chances of healthy survival into old age. It looks at two growing trends in the US: longevity and weight.
For every one-point increase in their Body Mass Index, women had a 12 percent lower chance of surviving to age 70 in good health when compared to thin women. Researchers defined “healthy survival” as not only being free of chronic disease, but having enough mental and physical capability to perform daily tasks.
Researchers analyzed data for more than 17,000 women collected through the ongoing Nurses’ Health Study, which started in 1976. Just under 10 percent of the women in the study who had lived to age 70 or beyond (their mean age was 50 when the Nurses’ Health Study began) reported being free of the 11 major chronic diseases the researchers tracked, maintaining good mental health and cognitive and physical function.
“If you are on the obesity track early in life, it could get very dangerous by the time you are middle-aged,” said Stephan Rossner, an obesity expert at KarolinskaUniversity Hospital in Stockholm. He said it was uncertain if people could regain the health benefits of being thin if they lost weight later in life.
Overweight woman face health issues and shorter life span but Researcher Qi Sun, MD says, “The key message from our paper is that to enjoy a healthy yet long life, women need to maintain a healthy body weight throughout adulthood,” “Meanwhile, I believe it is never too late to take initiatives to lose weight in a safe and healthy way to maximize the probability to achieve healthy survival.” Sun points out that being physically active, at any weight, is a healthy habit.
Materials from Science Daily and ABC News are used in preparing this report.
Written by Tyler Woods Ph.D.
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