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Height and Weight May Play Role In Life Expectancy

Average life expectancy has begun to plateau in some developed nations, and this may be partly due to increasing levels of obesity and decreasing levels of physical activity. Researchers from Maastricht University Medical Centre in the Netherlands performed an analysis to determine if height, weight, and levels of physical activity were linked to life expectancy and found that taller women who weigh less may have longer lifespans.

The researchers used data from the Netherlands Cohort Study. They focused on 7,807 participants who were aged between 68 and 90 in 1986. At that time, they provided detailed information on their height, weight, weight when aged 20, and leisure time physical activity. The participants were then followed for vital status information until age 90 or death.

The researchers found that women who lived until 90 were on average taller and had put on less weight since the age of 20. Specifically, women who were taller than 5’9” were 31% more likely to reach the age of 90 than women shorter than 5’3”. Similar associations were not seen among men.

In regard to physical activity, men who performed physical activity for over 90 minutes per day were 39% more likely to reach the age of 90 compared to men who performed less than 30 minutes.  Every 30 minutes extra above 90 minutes was associated with a 5% increase in the chances of reaching 90. For women, 30-6-0 minutes per day of physical activity were associated with a 21% higher likelihood of reaching the age of 90. Performing more than 60 minutes did not increase that likelihood.

The study was published on January 21, 2019, in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.
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