A new study from the University of California San Diego indicates involuntary weight loss could serve as an early sign of ill health and a predictor of reduced longevity.

This study reveals that women who maintain their body weight after age 60 are more likely to reach the exceptional ages of 90, 95, or 100. This research, published in the August 29, 2023 online issue of the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, studied 54,437 women.

The findings indicate that older women who sustain a stable weight are 1.2 to 2 times more likely to attain exceptional longevity compared to those who experience a 5 percent or more weight loss. Notably, unintentional weight loss reduces the likelihood of reaching age 90 by 50 percent. In contrast, gaining 5 percent or more weight, compared to maintaining stability, doesn’t significantly impact exceptional longevity.

Lead author Aladdin H. Shadyab, Ph.D., M.P.H., underscores the importance of stable weight in older women, especially in a country where many face overweight or obesity (with a BMI range of 25 to 35).

While these findings question the benefit of general weight loss recommendations for older women, the authors emphasize the importance of following medical advice if moderate weight loss is recommended for improved health or quality of life. This study contributes to the evolving understanding of the link between weight changes and mortality, marking the first significant research into the connection between late-life weight changes and exceptional longevity.

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