Friday, January 29, 2010

News flash: A little "extra" weight can be a good thing

Especially if you're over 70, say researchers at the Western Australian Center for Health and Aging.

A recent study shows that normal-weight and obese patients over 70 had slightly higher levels of mortality than those whose BMIs put them into the overweight category--BMIs of 25 to 29.

In an article in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, the researchers said, "These results lend further credence to claims that the body mass index [BMI] thresholds for overweight and obese are overly restrictive for older people."

Makes sense to me--that "extra weight" is what Ellyn Satter describes as "nutritional resources." Food is fuel, folks. Your body needs food not just to power itself but to fuel resilience, especially as we get older.

Now I want to see them study this same notion in 60-year-olds. I'm curious about what the results might show.

3 comments:

Graciela said...

The bottom line is that super thin is not healthy...no matter how old you are!

Adley said...

Your assessment is a bit misleading and overly simplistic. This study found a correlation between the "slightly overweight" and lower mortality rates. Many of the diseases (cancers etc) afflicting the elderly population cause wasting, and thus they will be over represented in the lower BMI population.

Also, this does not imply in any way that if you're in the normal range for your BMI that you should seek weight gain for health reasons.

Harriet said...

Acrually, Adley, it wasn't just the "slightly overweight" category. It was the "overweight" (there IS no "slightly overweight" category) and "mildly obese" categories.

And who said anything about having senior citizens gain weight for health? What I'm talking about here is taking a broader view of what constitutes health, especially for older people.