A NEW study from the UK is threatening to overturn conventional health wisdom after it suggested that being slightly overweight in your 70s and 80s could offer a protective health benefit.

The groundbreaking study by the British Dietetic Association (BDA) found that the risk of death is actually lower in those with a slight overweight status compared to younger age groups.

The finding, which is a concept known as the ‘obesity paradox’, threatens to throw out long held assumptions based around the Body Mass Index (BMI) method of assessing weight and health. 

Naiara Fernández, from the Spanish Society of Geriatrics and Gerontology (SEGG), noted that BMI recommendations are based on younger populations. 

A study by the British Dietetic Association (BDA) has found that a level of body fat is actually healthy for old people (CREDIT: Cordon Press)

A BMI between 28 and 30, which counts as grade one obesity in younger people, is considered normal for seniors, not necessarily indicating that they are overweight.

The study points out the dangers of restrictive diets in older adults, which can lead to muscle loss and increased fragility, potentially causing falls and injuries. 

And a layer of padding can actually provide a cushioning effect in the event of accidents and tumbles.

Dietary habits have been found to be crucial, with weight issues among the elderly more likely to arise from poor eating habits rather than overeating. 

Many older adults face challenges such as living alone, shopping difficulties, financial constraints limiting access to quality protein, or a lack of interest in cooking for one person.

Another key point is the distribution of body fat – evenly distributed fat is less harmful than a large gut, which increases the risk of metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and heart disease.

The BDA study also raises concerns about involuntary weight loss in older adults, which is considered much more alarming than being slightly overweight. 

Another study published in the journal Nutrients corroborated the findings, suggesting that the elderly with moderate overweight, chronic diseases, or acute medical events have better survival rates. 

This challenges the BMI as a sole criterion, as it doesn’t account for body composition and is less correlated with body mass percentage in older adults.

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