In the United States, it’s difficult to go a day without seeing some article or marketing pitch for the latest ways to lose weight, and while there is unquestionably an issue with unhealthy weight in the U.S., the obsession with weight loss isn’t necessarily always a good thing either. In fact, new research published in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences actually found that weight maintenance, not weight loss, may be more important for longevity, particularly later in life.
Study: Late-Life Weight Changes on Longevity
Utilizing data of 54,437 women aged 61 to 81 years old from the Women’s Health Initiative, researchers “examined associations of weight changes and intentionality of weight loss with survival to ages 90, 95, and 100.” Participants’ weight was measured at the start and then three years later and 10 years later.
Then the researchers classified the women into three groups:
- those who lost 5% or more weight
- those who gained 5% or more weight
- those who maintained stable rate, determined by have a less than 5% change in weight
The women were asked to report intentionality of weight loss after the third year.
What did the results show after 10 years? For starters, 30,647 (56.3%) of the women reached at least age 90, but more importantly, the results showed some surprising results when it came to weight and longevity.
More specifically, three-year weight loss of at least 5% was actually associated with lower odds of survival to ages 90, 95 and 100 compared to the women who maintained stable weight. In addition, “compared to intentional weight loss, unintentional weight loss was more strongly associated with lower odds of survival to age 90.”
Furthermore weight gain did not seem to have a statistically relevant effect on longevity compared to maintaining stable weight.
The study authors ultimately concluded: “Weight loss of ≥5% vs. stable weight was associated with lower odds of longevity, more strongly for unintentional weight loss than for intentional weight loss. Potential inaccuracy of self-reported intentionality of weight loss and residual confounding were limitations.”
Weight and Longevity
While the results of this study may be surprising, it emphasizes that it’s important to maintain a healthy weight as opposed to always striving to lose weight. The best way to do this is to ensure you practice a healthy lifestyle that combines eating the right foods with moving your body regularly and staying consistent throughout your life.
Here are some things to keep in mind to maintain a consistently healthy weight and better your odds of living a long life:
- Follow a longevity diet that focuses on complex carbs like whole grains, plant- and fish-based protein, healthy fats, and plenty of veggies.
- Exercise regularly, including things like running, strength training and more.
- Take advantage of the potential life-extending abilities of olive oil.
- Consume more anti-aging foods, such as berries, nuts, mushrooms and more.
- Go for walks.
- Eat more grapes.
- Drink coffee in moderation.
- Spend time in nature, occasionally fast, avoid being sedentary, socialize with friends and family, and practice other proven life extenders.