Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

Adults 65 and older shouldn’t worry about carrying around a few extra pounds, according to British medical experts. 

A guidance report from the British Dietetic Association, published in November and based on a review of studies by the University of Plymouth, recommended that for people who are over 65 and slightly overweight, “losing weight might not actually improve your health.”

The 2021 analysis by Plymouth researchers suggests that for people in their older years, the ideal Body Mass Index is actually between 25 to 29.9, or overweight, compared to the usual advice of a “healthy” BMI between 18.5 and 25. 

An overweight BMI “is not associated with adverse mortality outcomes in older adults,” the Plymouth researchers noted in their review. “In fact, being overweight is associated with the lowest mortality across all age groups, and this association is pronounced specifically in the older adults.”

The dietetic association’s Alison Smith told The New Scientist that one reason older people benefit from extra weight is that the body stores energy in fat, which it can use when people get sick and don’t have much of an appetite. 

A new guidance report by by the British Dietetic Association warns against older adults who are slightly overweight from shedding the extra pounds. woodygraphs
The BDA report was based on a 2021 analysis by researchers at the University of Plymouth. MattStansfield
Experts say there are benefits for older adults being slightly overweight, such as using fat for energy if they are sick and don’t have an appetite. adamkaz

“Periods of ill health increase as you age,” said Smith. “By encouraging older adults to lose weight, you’re almost making them less resilient.”

Weight loss, in addition to eliminating fat tissue, can also lead to a decline in muscle, which can heighten people’s susceptibility to illnesses, the outlet noted. 

Mary Hickson, a professor of dietetics at the University of Plymouth and co-author of the 2021 review, said that a third issue stems from the fact that when dieting, people can get tired and are not as physically active. This can further contribute to the potentially grave issue of muscle loss.

“It’s better to stay fit and not worry so much about excess weight than to reach this arbitrary target of a BMI of 25,” Hickson told The New Scientist.

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