Extra pounds at age 80 and even older might actually be a good healthy thing to be. Sounds crazy, right?
While in the midst of an obesity epidemic here in the United States, as well as world wide, who would advocate this recommendation? the obesity epidemic rages on —
The current reality is that 40 percent of American adults meet the criteria for being seriously overweight.
Currently, while obesity is the number one risk factor for people in middle age to early old age, adults over 80 face a different set of health challenges.
Extra Pounds: Why It’s Good For 80 Year Old Seniors
The link between obesity and heart disease, diabetes, and stroke is well established for age groups ranging from 35 to 75. However, once you hit 80, those risk factors decline. Why?
It’s because at age 80 and older, people begin to actually lose weight.
The ideal body mass index (BMI) for people over 64, experts agree, is between 24 to 29. But the mortality curve clearly shows the advantage to being at the top of this range, or even above a 30 BMI. Any score above 30 s considered obese.
However in older seniors, weight loss can be due to digestive problems or dental issues that prevent people from eating enough. This extra weight can protect against heart failure and provide padding against fractures if an older old person falls. At this age, too little weight or frailty is more common and dangerous than being fat.
Frailty is a clinical syndrome in which three or more of the following criteria are present: unintentional weight loss of 10 pounds in a year; self-reported exhaustion; weakness; slow walking speed; and low physical activity. If you’re over 80 and have a BMI below 20,you’re in the frailty zone.
Extra Pounds: Consequences of Low Weight In Seniors
In fact, as we start to lose weight in our 80s, muscle loss may even accelerate. That condition is called sarcopenia — the loss of muscle mass and muscle quality. Also there is a decrease in bone density, which can often lead to falls, fractures, disabilities. This condition is even worse for women as they have a lower percentage of muscle mass and higher percentage of body fat to begin with.
The best way to preserve muscle mass in older adults, is to eat at least three meals a day that provide 30 grams of protein each.
Next, add exercise to your schedule. The best is to do two or three weekly sessions of resistance training that works out all of the large muscle groups. If that is too difficult for you, then walk at least three times a wek, 15 to 30 minutes each time. This will help and maintain your mobility and balance.