February 26, 2018

460 Risks of Early Weight Gain [26 Feb 2018]

As older adults, few of us weigh what we did as young adults. Gaining weight as we age is normal, at least in this society. But gaining even a moderate amount of weight, like 5 to 20 pounds, will increase our risk of chronic disease and lower our chances of healthy aging.

A large study published in JAMA last July looked at the effect of weight gain from early to middle adulthood on health outcomes in later life. The study used data from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study to analyze 92,837 women and 25,303 men. The researchers compared the women’s weight at age 18 and the men’s at age 21 with their weight at age 55. They then observed their health outcomes for 15 to 18 years.

As expected, those that had gained the most weight by age 55 were at greatest risk of major chronic diseases. More surprising, perhaps, was that even a small weight gain significantly increased the risks. Women who gained 5 to 20 pounds had a higher risk of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, severe arthritis, gallstones, and certain cancers occurring later in life. Men who gained that amount had a higher risk of diabetes and high blood pressure. The study authors concluded that their data “provide strong evidence that maintaining a healthy weight throughout early and middle adulthood is associated with overall health in those who survive to older ages”.

The other lesson here is that weight gain in early adulthood is significant even if no health problems arise during that time. Weight gain during early to middle adulthood will strongly affect how healthy our later years will be. Maintaining a healthy weight during our younger years will improve the odds for healthy aging. In other words we’re never too young to get back to – and maintain – a healthy weight.

It’s not always possible to get back to our weight at ages 18 or 21, but any amount of excess weight we lose will benefit. I was 185 pounds at our wedding in 1981 – I’ll never see that again. I just finished losing 30 pounds (with the ketogenic diet we use in our clinic) to get back down to 200. Knowing what I do now, I will make a greater effort to keep it off and maybe lose a bit more.

"Associations of Weight Gain from Early to Middle Adulthood with Major Health Outcomes Later in Life", JAMA, July 2017 full article; abstract
Bonnie Liebman, "Why small amounts of weight gain shouldn't go unchecked", Nutrition Action, Feb 19 2018

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

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