That’s because being fat in middle age may slash a woman’s chances of making it to her golden years in good health by almost 80%, according to a new report which studied 17,000 American female nurses.
The women had an average age of 50 and all were healthy when the study began in 1976. Researchers then monitored the women’s weight, along with other health changes, every two years until 2000.
For every one-point increase in their Body Mass Index (BMI), women had a 12% lower chance of surviving to age 70 in good health when compared to thin women. Researchers defined “healthy survival” as not only being free of chronic disease but also having enough mental and physical ability to perform daily tasks like grocery shopping, vacuuming or walking up a flight of stairs.
With every kilogram (2.2 pounds) gained since age 18, women’s odds of surviving past 70 dropped 5%. Women who were already overweight at age 18 and then gained more than 10 kilograms later in life only had about a 20% chance of surviving to age 70 in good health. The most commonly reported diseases were cancer, heart disease and diabetes.