Middle Age Obesity Can Impact Your Golden Years

Middle Age Obesity Can Impact Your Golden Years
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Can you picture yourself at 70 years old enjoying an evening stroll? Will you be a cool grandma hanging out on the beach with your grandchildren? Will you tinker with the latest gadget as you sit in your favorite rocking chair?

Or do you fear for your future because of ailments that are starting to cripple you now?

If you maintain a lean body, you could enjoy your golden years with great overall health and wellbeing. However, according to a recent study, if you carry extra weight in your midsection as a young adult, and keep it into middle age, your senior years are less likely to be healthy and comfortable.

Obesity in Middle Age

Obesity means having too much body fat. Bodies need some fat to perform important functions, but too much fat can lead to a wide variety of health problems.

Diabetes, stroke and heart disease are among the problems you might face if you are obese. Research has shown over and over again that obesity can cause many health problems, even death. But until recently, very little research had been done specifically on women. Now, a study has looked at 17,000 middle-aged women in the United States and found dramatic results: That when obesity begins at age 18 and lasts until middle age, this decreases your chances of a long and healthy life by 79 percent.

Who’s got a Shot at Healthy Survival?

Researchers define “healthy survival” as living to age 70 or older and being free of major chronic diseases. Good mental health is also a part of healthy survival. Body mass index (BMI) is a measurement of body fat in relation to a person’s height and weight. A BMI that falls between 19 and 25 is considered healthy; a BMI between 25 and 30 is considered overweight, and a BMI over 30 is considered obese. Women with a high BMI at the start of the study had a lower chance of healthy survival. Do something today that your future self will thank you for. This study should prove to you that maintaining a healthy weight from early adulthood will help you maintain good health into old age. Life spans are getting longer and longer, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to healthy survival.

How well you take care of yourself in middle age will determine how well you will fare later in life. Remember-too much fat can kill, but you can control that. You might find yourself solving the world’s most critical problems at the age of 90. For that, you will have your determination, healthy eating and physical activity to thank.

Researchers found that

  • Every one point increase in a woman’s BMI leads to a 12 percent decrease in the chance of healthy survival.
  • For women who are overweight at age 18, every 2 pounds of additional weight gain decreases her chances of living past age 70 by 5 percent.
  • Women who were overweight at age 18 and gained 20 pounds or more during middle-age had the overall lowest chances of surviving past age 70.
  • Even women who were slim at age 18 but who gained 20 pounds or more during middle age had a 60 percent lower chance of achieving healthy survival than women who did not gain that much weight.


By Amy Campbell, MS, RD, LDN, CDE Reviewed by Robert Ehrman, MD

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