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Women's Weight Tied to Healthy Aging

Study Shows the More Weight Gained From Ages 18 to 50, the Lower the Odds of Being Healthy at 70
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Sept. 29, 2009 -- For women, the odds of being healthy at age 70 are best for those who don't gain a lot of weight between ages 18 and 50 and who aren't obese at 50.

That news appears in the "Online First" edition of BMJ.

But millions of middle-aged women are overweight and obese, and they can't go back in time to change that. Researcher Qi Sun, MD, of the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health, doesn't want those women to give up on the possibility of healthy aging.

"The key message from our paper is that to enjoy a healthy yet long life, women need to maintain a healthy body weight throughout adulthood," Sun tells WebMD in an email. "Meanwhile, I believe it is never too late to take initiatives to lose weight (in a safe and healthy way) to maximize the probability to achieve healthy survival," Sun writes.

Sun points out that being physically active, at any weight, is a healthy habit.

"The bottom line is women who are already age 50, no matter what [their] current weight is, can still benefit from physical activity to increase their odds of having wonderful health at later life," Sun writes. "Of course, the best way to maximize the probability of healthy survival is to maintain at least moderate levels of physical activity AND a healthy body weight throughout adulthood."

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