If you lose weight during this time in your life, you actually may put yourself at a major health risk

Shutterstock

According to a new academic paper, weight loss benefits potentially decrease as we age. This joins a slew of other recent dietary chapters that aim to irradiate the delicate liaison metabolism shares with mortality.  Although individuals that were consistently obese throughout their adult lives evidenced the highest risk associated with premature death, the subjects in the study published in the BMJ that were obese and then lost weight during middle age and or old age were concurrently strongly linked to an increased mortality risk.

“Our takeaway is that it’s best to prevent weight gain at younger ages to reduce the risk of premature death later in life,” study author An Pan, a professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Tongji Medical College in Wuhan, China told CNN.

What we thought we knew

The intimations forwarded by the new study were actually a considered analysis of the 36,052 people aged 40 and older involved in the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. For those unfamiliar, this is an exhaustive,  nationally representative report comprised of interviews, physical examinations and blood samples released to the public on a yearly basis.

Just as you likely have already denoted based on the index above, the authors behind the paper themselves, too, have tempered every press statement with a critical throat clearing, namely that the results do not account for every instance of unintentional weight loss. In other words, some participants that experienced drastic weight loss as a consequence of a terminal illness like diabetes or cancer, were additionally factored into the correlative summation presented in the introduction.

The results were fascinating nonetheless, especially set against what we thought we knew about diet science. For example, the participants that were overweight but not obese throughout their adult life showcased no discernible risk for premature  death.  Of course one should aim for a healthy BMI but this seems to indicate that fluctuating between weights might actually pose a greater risk than maintaining a slightly above average body mass index.

“Unintentional weight loss could be a sign of underlying conditions like diabetes or cancer,” Pan continued. Another reason, he said, could be because the weight loss involved someone who was already obese and thus already at a higher risk. “The first message is to try not to gain weight when you’re young, and in old age focus on maintaining a healthy lifestyle,” Pan said. “Weight is a secondary consideration.”