Being overweight might be good for this particular group of people

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A new study challenges the established notion of an ideal Body Mass Index (BMI) for seniors

A man is pictured on a street as Mexico is bracing for the impact of the fast-spreading coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Mexico City, Mexico March 24, 2020.—Reuters
A man is pictured on a street as Mexico is bracing for the impact of the fast-spreading coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Mexico City, Mexico March 24, 2020.—Reuters 

British medical experts are urging adults aged 65 and above to reconsider the traditional concern over carrying a few extra pounds.

The latest guidance report from the British Dietetic Association, backed by a thorough review conducted by the University of Plymouth, challenges the established notion of an ideal Body Mass Index (BMI) for seniors.

While the conventional wisdom advocates for a “healthy” BMI between 18.5 and 25, the report proposes a broader range of 25 to 29.9, categorising individuals as overweight.

This recommendation stems from the surprising findings of the 2021 analysis by Plymouth researchers, revealing that an overweight BMI does not correlate with adverse mortality outcomes in older adults.

Instead, it appears to be associated with the lowest mortality rates across all age groups, particularly pronounced in the elderly.

Alison Smith from the British Dietetic Association highlighted a key insight into why older individuals might benefit from carrying a bit more weight. The body’s ability to store energy in the form of fat becomes crucial during periods of illness when appetite diminishes.

Encouraging weight loss in seniors, according to Smith, may inadvertently compromise their resilience during health challenges. The report sheds light on additional concerns related to weight loss, emphasising its potential impact on muscle decline and increased susceptibility to illnesses, further challenging the conventional wisdom surrounding BMI targets for seniors.

Professor Mary Hickson, a co-author of the comprehensive 2021 review, advocates for a shift in focus from a fixation on BMI numbers to a holistic approach centred on fitness.

She underscores the importance of maintaining physical activity levels and not fixating on arbitrary BMI targets, signalling a broader perspective on senior well-being that goes beyond traditional weight norms.

This groundbreaking report prompts a reevaluation of the relationship between weight, health, and ageing, encouraging a more nuanced and individualised approach to senior wellness.



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