Susan--I read recently in a health newsletter that older adults should maintain a BMI of 25 to 27, rather than the recommended range 20 to 25. I am an older adult and would like to know your expert opinion about this.
I will leave Susan to answer, but one thing to be aware of is conditions like cancer, sarcopenia and osteoporosis cause a reduction in bodyweight, so people with those conditions are going to skew the results as they all shorten life expectancy. What we should all be interested in is percentage fat, not bmi.
Thanks for tagging me @Nemo !
Correlation studies suggest that hospitalized older adults that are thin have a greater risk of death and disease versus those at a slightly higher BMI. This led to the conclusion that it's helpful to be at a heavier weight when you're older.
The challenge with this is that BMI doesn't differentiate between fat and muscle tissue (nor does it tell us if someone is thin due to malnutrition which is very common in seniors).
My advice to seniors is:
Hope this helps!
Susan Macfarlane, MScA, RD
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
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And you're exactly right @jefmcg ! Sometimes, in cancer patients, we'll try to bulk them up as much as possible (with nutrient and energy-rich foods) knowing that treatment leads to muscle and fat wasting.
My regular doctor is a geriatric specialist. He would prefer my weight not to fall much below 25 BMI. His reasoning is it can be harder for older folks to recover from weight loss due to illness. I do strength and aerobic exercise. If I ever become so lean and so muscular that the BMI number becomes problematic we'll deal with it. Until then it would just be a hypothetical argument.
"Eat food, not too much, mostly plants." Michael Pollan