Stay Trim Live Longer

The 1990, U.S. Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines said it was all right for people over the age of 35 to be heavier than younger adults. Some health experts disagreed. The debate led the U.S.D.A. to leave out age-specific weight recommendations in their 1995 guidelines. A new study gives us, and the experts, some guidance.

Like most of us, 53-year-old Mal has put on weight as he’s aged. “I noticed that I was creeping up little by little every year, over the past 10 years,” he says.

Until now, public health experts have questioned whether or not this gradual gain has anything to do with how long we live. A new study says it does.

June Stevens, Ph.D., is a nutritionist and epidemiologist. “My study would indicate that even in someone who is 60, being overweight is bad for your survival,” she says.

The study found that from age 30 through 75, people at or under these current weight guidelines are healthier than those who weigh more.

Based on height only, there’s a range of weights that are ok — people with less muscle mass should weigh at the lower end of this range; people with more can weigh at the higher end.

So six-foot Mal should weigh 160 to 165 until he’s 75 — a drop of about 20 pounds. At 53″, dentist Jackie Malone-Harper should weigh between 130 to 160. “To get back down to that weight, I would have to lose a good 70 to 80 pounds,” says Jackie.

At 53 and 160 lbs., this muscular student should hold it right there — for the rest of his life.

It’s not easy, but Dr. Stevens has a suggestion. “If those people who are just slightly overweight could not gain any more weight, and that happened all over the country, it would have an enormous impact on public health.” And on private lives.

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