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Fat Over 70: Could Your Extra Pudge Actually Help You Live LONGER?

If you’re over 70 and carrying a little extra pudge, you may be relieved to know your extra pounds could actually be doing you some good.  An Australian study conducted over a 10 year period showed that people overweight (not obese) at 70 are at lower risk of an early death from cancer, cardiovascular, and respiratory disease than those at normal weight or obese.

Good news for those in their golden years and battling the bulge, right?  Well, to a degree.

Has a possible lifetime of irresponsible eating or a sedentary lifestyle suddenly been justified? No, not at all.

The same study showed that a sedentary way of life doubled the mortality rate for women, and for men, increased mortality by 28%.

Plus, health experts are quick to point out there is a huge difference between the number of years you live and quality living.  Overweight individuals are at risk for numerous health problems such as coronary disease, type-2 diabetes, stroke, hypertension, and cancer. 

However, other experts believe that simply being overweight isn’t a definitive contributor to poor health and aging.  As a matter of fact, being too thin can have negative health and longevity effects as well.

This sparks more debate.

There is ongoing debate in the scientific community over the most accurate way to define ideal weight.  Currently, body mass index (BMI) is used to distinguish weight categories, in other words if you’re too fat, too thin, or just right. But is this index correct for all age groups?  That has yet to be determined.

According to The World Health Organization:

  • Normal weight means a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 kg/ m2.
  • Overweight is a BMI of 25 to 29.9 kg/ m2.
  • Obesity is a BMI of 30 or higher and under 18.5 is considered underweight.

How does excess weight offer protection?

The exact mechanism is unclear but one hypothesis is that as we age, extra fat provides a nutritional and metabolic reserve.  In this instance, fat is advantageous.  When a disease or illness develops, this reserve helps fight the illness.

A somewhat cautionary summary is that people who are middle age and overweight may live longer and enjoy better health than those who are too thin or have a normal weight.  Fit and fat is better than lean and in compromised health.

Again, this doesn’t mean you can have a Twinkie fest and veg out on in front of the TV all day.  This leads to obesity and there’s no doubt of the health risks associated with it.

But if you’re carrying extra pounds and have a hard time getting rid of them, just forget about the BMI numbers and focus on healthy living that incorporates a nutritious diet and staying active. Follow these guidelines and your golden days could be the best days of your life.

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