Extra Pounds = Longevity in Seniors
If you’re carrying a few extra pounds in your 50s but you manage not to gain any more as time goes by, you may live longer than normal-weight people your age. A nationwide study done at The Ohio State University and published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that people who were slightly overweight at 50+ but kept their weight relatively stable were the most likely to survive over the next 16 years. They had better survival rates even than people in the healthy weight range whose weight increased slightly but stayed within the normal range.
On the other hand, those who started out as very obese in their 50s and whose weight continued to increase were the most likely to die during that period. Overall, the results suggest that about 7.2 percent of deaths after the age of 51 are due to weight gain among obese people, at least among the generation in this study, according to lead author Hui Zheng.
A release from the university quotes Zheng as saying, "You can learn more about older people's mortality risk by looking at how their weight is changing than you can by just looking at how much they weigh at any one time."
Why is being slightly overweight protective for older people? "It is probably because the older population is more likely to get illnesses and disease, especially cancer, that cause dangerous weight loss," Zheng said. "In that case, a small amount of extra weight may provide protection against nutritional and energy deficiencies, metabolic stresses, the development of wasting and frailty, and loss of muscle and bone density caused by chronic diseases."