For women, keeping a stable weight after the age of 60 may boost their odds of reaching the advanced ages of 90, 95 or even 100.

Older women with a more stable weight were 1.2 to 2 times more likely to live that long than those who lost 5% or more of their weight, the study showed.

Women who unintentionally lost weight were 51% less likely to survive to the age of 90. Gaining 5% or more weight, compared to stable weight, was also not associated with exceptional longevity.

“It is very common for older women in the United States to experience overweight or obesity with a body mass index range of 25 to 35. Our findings support stable weight as a goal for longevity in older women,” said first study author Aladdin Shadyab, an associate professor at the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science at the University of California, San Diego.

“If aging women find themselves losing weight when they are not trying to lose weight, this could be a warning sign of ill health and a predictor of decreased longevity,” Shadyab said in a university news release.

For the study, the researchers used data from more than 54,000 women who enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative. Throughout the follow-up period, more than 30,000 women, or 56% of the participants, survived to the age of 90 or beyond.

According to the study authors, the findings suggest that general recommendations for weight loss in older women may not help them live longer. Yet, women should heed medical advice if moderate weight loss is recommended to improve their health or quality of life.

This research, published online Aug. 29 in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, was partly funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on a healthy weight.

SOURCE: University of California, San Diego, news release, Aug. 29, 2023