This afternoon I had the privilege of attending a social function for seniors
at a high end retirement home. There were about one hundred seniors in
attendance and while I can't eyeball statistics what I saw was obvious.
Just a few of these seniors were in their seventies and the vast majority were
in the eighties and nineties. The ratio of females to males was about
three or four to one in favor of the women. I saw one obese person - a
male, but by far and away the majority of those there were slim and trim with
just a few who were perhaps a little overweight. I've worked at that
facility in the past and can aver that overweight residents are rare.
In working with these folks I guarantee that all that I worked with have a
very positive outlook on life and it is truly a joy to be in their presence.
"You are what you eat" is a truism and "eating healthy"
has many many different connotations from high protein to vegetarianism, all as
long as one eats in moderation.
Study Finds that Both Weight and Exercise Are Key to
For immediate release: December 22, 2004
Boston, MA— New research findings from the Department of Nutrition at the
Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital show that
increased body fatness measured by body-mass index (BMI) and reduced physical
activity are both strong and independent predictors of premature death in women.
The study appears in the December 23, 2004 issue of the New England Journal of
Body-mass index is determined by dividing an individuals’ weight in kilograms
by the square of height in meters. For non-metric, weight in pounds is divided
by the square of height in inches, then multiplied by 703. A BMI over 25 is
considered overweight. Approximately two thirds of Americans are classified as
overweight or obese.
More than 115,000 participants who were free of cardiovascular disease or
cancer, between the ages of 30 and 55 and had filled out biennial health and
lifestyle questionnaires between 1976 and 2000 were chosen for the study from
the Brigham and Women’s Hospital-based Nurses’ Health Study. In the
questionnaires the women were asked to report on average how much time was spent
per week on moderate physical activities such as brisk walking, and vigorous
physical activities, among them, jogging, running, bicycling, playing tennis and
swimming laps. Women who spent 3.5 hours per week or more exercising were
considered physically active.
The researchers found that both obesity and physical activity
significantly and independently affected mortality. A high level of physical
activity did not eliminate the risk of premature death associated with obesity
and leanness did not counteract the increased risk in mortality conferred by
inactivity. Compared to physically active, lean women, there was nearly
a two and half-fold increase in risk of death for inactive and obese women. The
researchers estimated that excess weight (BMI over 25) and physical inactivity
(less than 3.5 hours per week) accounted for 31 percent of all premature deaths
among the study participants with 59 percent of the deaths attributable to
cardiovascular disease and 21 percent from cancer among the non-smoking women.
During the 24 year span of the study, 10,282 deaths occurred; 2,370 from
cardiovascular disease, 5,223 from cancer and 2,689 from other causes.
“It is clear that both weight and exercise are important for health and
longevity,” said Frank Hu, lead author of the study and an associate professor
of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health. “There
is no question that one should be as active as possible no matter what your
weight is, but it is equally important to maintain a healthy weight and prevent
weight gain through diet and lifestyle.”