Weight and Aging

by Marie
(Detroit, MI)

I am constantly hearing that being overweight significantly impacts your health and significantly reduces your life expectancy.

Is this true or are there statistics that support this?

I ask this because I am in my 40's, my cholesterol and heart rate and other health indicators are normal and yet I am about 40 pounds over-weight according to the charts I have found online and in other literature and that are supposed to provide guidelines for being healthy.

Can you tell me how much weight plays a role in aging and how much does being overweight really impact a person?

When does the impact of weight begin to take affect and can it be reversed?

What are some early indicators that weight is definitely having an impact on your longevity?

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Aug 05, 2009
Weight and Aging - What Is The Connection?
by: George Parigian Jr.

Hi Marie,

Thank you for writing. These are excellent questions!

Yes there are statistics that indicate a correlation between weight and lifespan. People that are significantly overweight tend to have shorter lifespans.

The focus on weight as the cause of illness is misguided. The weight is more an indicator that a person has metabolic and hormonal problems that are the cause of the overweight condition.

Being significantly overweight is statistically related to having more chronic health problems. What is also important is how that weight is distributed, because that indicates what is going on hormonally in that person?s body.

Weight concentrated in the abdominal area may indicate chronically elevated insulin which is very bad for your heart health, and also an increased cancer risk.

Weight that is evenly distributed all over the body is associated with less health risk.

Currently the medical system focuses less on actual scale weight than your body composition. They use a measure called the BMI (body mass index) which involves the ratio of hip to waist measurement and height to determine body fat mass.

Check out wikipedia for Body Mass Index for more info on this.

If you are 40 lbs over your "ideal" weight, but all your tests indicate you are in a normal state of health, just how useful is this concept of "ideal weight?"

The direct effects of excess bodyweight are things like stress on joints possibly leading to arthritic conditions. Other conditions would include stress on internal organs and the cardiovascular system, because the more body mass you have, the harder your systems have to work to support it.

The effect of excess bodyweight on aging, again it would depend on the weight distribution. A large amount of abdominal fat would tend to indicate high insulin, and that definitely will shorten lifespan.

How would you know if the excess weight is affecting your health?

Probably just by the way you feel on a day-to-day basis. Do you feel energetic and free from pain for the most part? Do you have any restriction on your breathing or flexibility?

The answers to those questions would be an indicator as to whether your weight is having a negative effect on your health.

The older you get, the greater the negative health effects. I don?t know that there is any cutoff age beyond which the impact rises dramatically, but once you are in your forties, it is certainly time to improve your body composition and health.

Check out my pages on exercise and healthy weight loss:




I hope this information helps you understand these topics. Please feel free to write again and ask more questions.

Best Regards,


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