If you're more than 80 years old, carrying a few extra pounds might not be such a bad idea. In fact, it may be beneficial.
That's one of the findings from a joint UC Irvine and University of Southern California analysis of body mass index (BMI) and mortality rates from participants of a large-scale study based in a Southern California retirement community.
The analysis found that study participants in their 80s and 90s who were overweight by BMI standards (25 to 29.9 range) had lower mortality rates than those who were in the normal range (18.5 to 24.9). The findings suggest that the BMI scale, which applies to all adults, may not be appropriate for the elderly and should be age-adjusted. This supports other research offering the same conclusion. The study appears in the May 15 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.
"We found that what's recommended for everyone else with body mass index measurements isn't necessarily the best for the elderly," says Maria Corrada, an epidemiologist in the UCI School of Medicine who led the analysis effort. "It seems that if you're in your 80s or 90s, you may live even longer if you are a bit overweight by BMI standards."
The study, which is part of the Leisure World Cohort Study at Laguna Woods, Calif., looked at survey data taken from 13,451 residents in the large retirement community in 1981-83 and 1985. The residents, whose average age was 73 at the time of the survey, provided their height and weight at age 21 and at the time of the survey.
In addition to finding that those who were overweight had the lowest mortality rates, the researchers discovered: