Extra pounds may lower mortality rate for the elderly

Here’s something you don’t hear too often these days: To stay healthy, you should gain a little weight.

But that doesn’t go for everyone, of course.

Researchers at the University of California Irvine (UCI) compared body mass index (BMI) and mortality rates for more than 13,000 subjects over the age of 80 living in a retirement community. Data was collected over a three-year period, and again for another year one year later.

Results showed that mortality rates were generally lower among subjects with BMI numbers in the overweight range compared to subjects with numbers in the normal range. In addition, subjects who were overweight or obese in their early 20s had higher mortality rates, even if they had lost that weight by the time the study began.

Although more research is needed to determine exactly what’s behind these trends, this isn’t the first study to produce these results. Maria Corrada of the UCI School of Medicine told Today @ UCI, “What’s interesting about these findings is that it supports previous studies that recommend people to stay in the ‘normal’ BMI range during young adulthood and slowly gain weight during their elderly years.”

“For Elderly, Extra Pounds may Lower Mortality Rates” Today @ UCI, 5/15/06, today.uci.edu