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  1. Dean Pomerleau

    Optimal Late-Life BMI for Longevity

    Mike Lustgarten has penned an interesting blog post in which he looks at data from several sources, including these two meta-analyses [1][2]. Study [1] found the optimal BMI for adults in general (median age 58), was pretty flat and optimal between BMI of 19-25. Here is the graph: But [2] found in older adults (65+) the optimal BMI was much higher: As we've discussed here, this late-life "obesity paradox" might be a result of latent disease making people thin and more likely to die. Or it could simply be that heavier people have more metabolic reserves, which is important to enable the elderly to weather the "slings and arrows" of aging / decrepitude (e.g. falls & fractures, hospitalization, sarcopenia, loss of appetite, etc.) But the most interesting graphic from Mike's post is this one, in which Mike looked through a bunch of references (see his blog post for the list of references) and apparently did his own meta-analysis of the average BMI of centenarians (thanks Mike!): As you can see, most centenarians have a BMI between 19 and 24. He concludes: Centenarians have a BMI between 19.3-24.4 kg/m2. Shouldn’t that be the BMI reference range for those interested in living past 100? On the CR Society Facebook Group discussion of Mike's blog post, I question his rationale for this statement, saying: To play devil's advocate, it seems like the only way to answer [the question of the optimal BMI for living past 100] is to see if [the centenarians] have maintained that BMI from a much younger age, or have only gotten that thin as a results of sarcopenia and other unintended weight loss. Or maybe they've gained weight relative to their younger selves. There just isn't enough information to know what is optimal based on late-life BMI in the extremely old. I further suggest something we've discussed before (in the thread mentioned above): The optimal strategy may be to remain thin until one's elderly years to gain the benefits of CR, then put on weight to serve as a metabolic reserves when adverse events are likely to require them in old age. --Dean ------- [1] Berrington de Gonzalez A, Hartge P, Cerhan JR, Flint AJ, Hannan L, MacInnis RJ, Moore SC, Tobias GS, Anton-Culver H, Freeman LB, Beeson WL, Clipp SL, English DR, Folsom AR, Freedman DM, Giles G, Hakansson N, Henderson KD, Hoffman-Bolton J, Hoppin JA, Koenig KL, Lee IM, Linet MS, Park Y, Pocobelli G, Schatzkin A, Sesso HD, Weiderpass E, Willcox BJ, Wolk A, Zeleniuch-Jacquotte A, Willett WC, Thun MJ. Body-mass index and mortality among 1.46 million white adults. N Engl J Med. 2010 Dec 2;363(23):2211-9. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1000367. Erratum in: N Engl J Med. 2011 Sep 1;365(9):869. ---- [2] Winter JE, MacInnis RJ, Wattanapenpaiboon N, Nowson CA. BMI and all-cause mortality in older adults: a meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014 Apr;99(4):875-90.
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