Weight stability in older women may lead to longer lives

Image of three older women with their arms around each other

For women, weight stability after the age of 60 may be key to reaching advanced ages, according to new research.

Participants from the Women’s Health Initiative, an NHLBI-funded initiative investigating major determinants of chronic diseases among postmenopausal women, were involved in a new study which examined the associations of weight changes with survival to ages 90, 95, and 100, known as exceptional longevity. 

Weight was measured at baseline, year three, and year 10. Among the women in the cohort, those who maintained their weight were 1.2 to 2 times more likely to reach advanced ages compared to those who lost 5% or more of their weight after three years. Those associations were similar for 10-year weight changes. Though both intentional and unintentional weight loss were associated with decreased likelihood of exceptional longevity, unintentional weight loss was more strongly associated with less chance of reaching an older age. Weight gain of greater than 5% was not associated with exceptional longevity compared to stable weight. 

According to the study authors, “these findings suggest that blanket recommendations for weight loss in older women are unlikely to lead to better survival to advanced ages.”

The study, funded by NHLBI, was published in the Journals of Gerontology: Series A