- Women who maintained weight were up to twice as likely to make it to 90+
Many women wish they could lose a few pounds, but keeping a stable weight in later life instead could boost the odds of reaching 100.
A study of more than 50,000 women over the age of 60 compared those who kept their weight broadly stable over three years to those who lost at least 5 per cent.
The women who lost weight were 38 per cent less likely to reach their 100th birthday.
They were 33 per cent less likely to make it to the age of 90, and 35 per cent less likely to survive to the age of 95.
This was particularly the case for those who said they had unintentionally shed the pounds, whose weight loss could be a sign of ill health, stress or frailty.
The study found women who gain more than 5 per cent of their body weight were not any more or less likely to survive to the age of 90 or beyond. This may be because weight gain in middle age, or at a younger age, is more likely to reduce life expectancy (file photo)
Researchers say individuals advised to lose weight by their doctor for health reasons should do so, especially if they are obese.
But women over 60 struggling to shift the pounds may seek some reassurance in their apparently increased odds of reaching 90 or getting a card from the King for turning 100.
The study found women who gain more than 5 per cent of their body weight were not any more or less likely to survive to the age of 90 or beyond.
This may be because weight gain in middle age, or at a younger age, is more likely to reduce life expectancy.
Dr Aladdin Shadyab, author of the study from the University of California San Diego, said: ‘Our findings support stable weight as a goal for longevity in older women.
If ageing women find themselves losing weight when they are not trying to, this could be a warning sign of ill health and a predictor of decreased longevity.’
Researchers looked at 54,437 women, aged 61 to 81, when they volunteered for a large US health study. Just over half survived to 90, and about 9 per cent of those in the study long enough to turn 100 made it to that age.
The study found women who gained or lost no more than 5 per cent of their weight over three years were up to twice as likely to make it to 90 and beyond.
The study found women who gain more than 5 per cent of their body weight were not any more or less likely to survive to the age of 90 or beyond (file photo)
Losing more than 5 per cent of your body weight as a woman over 60, if this happens unintentionally, has the most impact on life expectancy, the study suggested.
Among those who lost the weight without meaning to, about a third said it was due to illness, while almost 29 per cent had less of an appetite and 23 per cent blamed stress.
These unintentional slimmers were 51 per cent less likely to reach 90, while those who lost weight intentionally, usually through a change in diet or exercise, were only 17 per cent less likely to.
However, although women who unexpectedly lose weight in later life are advised to see a doctor, this is common, and not necessarily something to be alarmed about.
The findings, published in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, back up evidence that older men who lose weight are more likely to die prematurely.
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