Strong Beats Skinny for Longer Life

People are constantly being told to watch their weight, but perhaps the advice should be, “Watch your muscle mass.”

Research published in The American Journal of Medicine suggests that muscle mass index serves as a better predictor of long life than weight. Most health care professionals are trained to focus on body mass index (BMI), which is a system for establishing weight norms based on height and age. However, among older adults, BMI’s association with longevity (how long a person lives) has proven inconsistent. Among older adults especially, BMI may not be a great predictor of long life. 

Dr. Preethi Srikanthan and his research team at the University of California think that measuring muscle mass may be a better way to evaluate health. Using electrical devices called impedance meters, they were able to determine the amount of muscle each person had. They did this measurement on 3,659 individuals age 55+ and followed them to measure their lives. Dr. Srikanthan and team found a definite correlation between higher muscle mass index and longer life among retirees.

These results are certainly no excuse to start eating just anything and ignoring body shape as a sign of overall health. However, this research is a nice reminder that building muscle and fitness can be more important to a long happy life than weight-to-height ratios.

Source: Srikanthan P, Karlamangla AS. Muscle mass index as a predictor of longevity in older adults. The American Journal of Medicine. 1;127(6):547-53.

 

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