BMI for elderly

Contradictory observation

For individuals 60 years or older, the generally accepted belief is that being overweight poses a danger to health. However, a high BMI in the elderly does not necessarily pose any risk. That applies to those with overweight and, to some extent, those in obesity class 1. That is if those individual does not suffer from any other illnesses.

BMI for elderly

Nutritional supplement for the elderly

People who live with obesity when they are in the 20 to 45 age range have an increased risk of premature death as they get older. They probably already have a sedentary lifestyle with significantly increased risk factors as a result.

A large part of this group is likely to be medicated for extended periods. The treatment can vary from traditional heart medications to diuretic pharmaceuticals. As this goes on, they are also at risk of being diagnosed with diabetes. Other groups of individuals who may be overweight are those who gained weight at an older age. Those people are not as prone to the same kind of risk.

A BMI of 22 or less is considered an ideal weight for most individuals. However, for the elderly, that BMI may indicate underweight. Low muscle mass, in combination with smaller fat reserves, means that the body has lower margins of energy.

Such a fact can be potentially life-threatening as there is less energy margin for the body to utilize, especially in the event of a prolonged decline in health or sudden illness. Nutritional supplements, together with other kinds of healthy food, can strengthen the body. That can potentially lead to the prevention of early death.

Fat protects

Several studies in recent years confirm that individuals’ BMI increases with age, both for men and women. At the same time, it has been observed that this increase is not always hazardous to health. Researchers do not find a direct relationship between overweight and shortened life expectancy for those in the age group 60 to 85 years. For that group, it may instead be advantageous to have a little overweight as it protects against certain diseases.

All else being equal, a disease-stricken overweight person survives for a longer time than a slim individual, since fat protects against the breakdown of other body tissue. The reason for this conflicting observation is believed to be a combination of genetic conditions and an increase in protection against inflammation due to a more significant fat layer and extra nutritional reserve.

Elderly with overweight

Health care professionals are increasingly concerned about overweight and obesity in the general population. However, there are studies with theories indicating that a minor overweight is not as worrying as previously feared. Proponents of these theories rely on research and empirical data collected over a long time.

After adjusting the results for high blood pressure and diabetes, the researchers found that overweight or class 1 obesity in themselves does not increase the health risk. Instead, it is diseases that result from obesity at earlier ages that constitute the most severe risk factor for premature death.

Elderly with underweight

Researchers are questioning the appropriateness of diagnosing older people via BMI, for other than individuals with underweight. That latter group instead need nutritional supplements in appropriate forms. No difference between women and men in these respects was observed.

Genetically predisposed

A fat but otherwise healthy individual and at the same time also not genetically predisposed to being affected by overweight will have a lower risk of premature death. The above statements do not take into account the fact that the more body fat, the higher the likelihood that leads to premature death for people with severe obesity. For a longer and healthier life, an active lifestyle is preferred. Training of both muscles and brain, an individual is likely to survive longer than his more passive and relatively malnourished fellow human.

More in-depth studies are desirable regarding the circumference of the waist and the hip dimensions and its impact on health and early death.

Enter your values below to calculate an age-adjusted BMI.

Age: years


Research is ongoing on how age affects BMI. At the International Journal of Obesity , you can read a research article that studies the accuracy of BMI in diagnosing overweight in adults. There, you can also read about the effect of age regarding the estimation of the amount of body fat.

You may find more useful information about BMI on this page.