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Elderly BMI

June 28, 2006

New research shows that people should perhaps get plumper with age.


Grading weight on a curve. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

If you live to be eighty, you’re entitled to carry a few extra pounds. In fact, it may be healthy to do so. This according to University of California-Irvine epidemiologist Maria Corrada. She and her colleagues found that people in their eighties and nineties who were somewhat overweight, according to the commonly accepted Body Mass Index, actually lived longer than their leaner counterparts. Why that is isn’t clear.

MARIA CORRADA (University of California-Irvine):
Maybe having a few extra pounds may protect the elderly from more severe injuries such as hip fractures, for example, during a fall. There’s some diseases associated with weight loss, and maybe having a few extra pounds means that you can lose a little bit more weight before you become too thin and too unhealthy.

Whatever the reason, she says that different weight standards may be needed for the oldest of the old. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.