Studies have shown that no matter how old we are, being overweight can lead to numerous health problems.
However, a recent study published in The BMJ reveals that it’s not all that simple. The study examined the connection between a person’s change in body weight and the risk of dying earlier.
As we get older, researchers found that the link between weight gain and death weakens. Also the study found that when people who are middle aged or older lose weight it increases the risk of premature death particularly in relation to heart disease.
The take-away lesson from the study is that it is best to keep weight off when you are younger and keep it that way in order to lower the risk of premature death later on in their life. This was shared by the study’s author An Pan, who is a professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Tongji Medical College located in Wuhan, China.
The study showed that the highest risk for premature death was found in people who remained obese, which was measured by body mass index (BMI), all through their adult life. The increased risk of mortality also was connected to the weight gained in their mid-20s to middle age as compared to people who maintained a normal weight all through their life.
In the US as well as globally, the major health problem is obesity. In 2016 in the US, there were 38% of women and 36% of men who were diagnosed as being clinically obese which was cited according to the data in the study. These figures are an increase by 14% for women and 11% for men since 1975.
Pan says that the study did not cover the reasons for later-in-life weight loss and suggested that a factor that could be important is whether or not the weight loss was intentional or not.
Premature death could be caused by unintentional weight loss due to underlying conditions such as diabetes to cancer.
The insight to draw from the study is to not gain weight when you are young and when you are older the important thing is to focus on maintaining a healthy lifestyle like exercising and eating healthy. Pan says that weight is a secondary thing to consider.
The study examined data for 36,052 people ranging in age from 40 and older taken from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey – a survey that gauges the health of US citizens with interviews, blood samples and physical examinations.