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New Study: Stable Weight Crucial for Longevity in Older Women

A new study published in the Journal of Gerontology says that women who want to live into their 90s should maintain a stable weight after age 60.

In the study, led by the University of California San Diego, data from more than 54,437 women who took part in the (WHI) study were analyzed. As reported, women over the age of 60 years with stable weight had a 1.2-2 times higher likelihood of becoming exceptionally long-lived, defined as living to 90 or older, compared to those who experienced weight loss of 5 percent or greater.

On the other hand, women who had lost weight unintentionally were 51% less likely to be 90-year-long survivors. On the contrary, weight gain of 5% or more was also not associated with extraordinary longevity; hence, weight stability is very important.

“If aging women find themselves losing weight when they are not trying to lose weight, this could be a warning sign of ill health and a predictor of decreased longevity,” explained first author Dr. Aladdin Shadyab, associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology at Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science at UC San Diego.

This study is the first large-scale examination of weight changes later in life-related to exceptional longevity. It challenges the current recommendations for older or overweight women to lose weight, putting forward that maintaining a stable weight is more important if a person hopes to live into her/his 90s.

“Our findings support stable weight as a goal for longevity in older women,” said Dr. Shadyab. The authors, however, pointed out that women who have been advised by their doctors to lose a modest quantity of weight for better health and quality of life should still do so.

Their study was particularly useful in providing information on how weight interacts with aging for exceptional longevity among postmenopausal women, considering that over 56% of the participants lived past the age of 90 years.

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