Monday, October 1, 2012

Controversial, but I Like it

"An Advocate of Weight Gain" said the headline on the obit of Dr. Reubin Andres in today's NYTimes. I had to read that obit, which I rarely do. Dr. Andres who died at age 89, was a gerontologist and has been clinical director of the National Institute on Aging since 1977. Dr. Andres believed that some weight gain in later adulthood, about 6 pounds per decade after the 40s, if I understand correctly) is healthy. Many disagree with him looking at cholesterol numbers and so on. But Dr. Andres is not talking about allowing oneself to become obese, his research and observation led him to believe that this amount of weight gain is the healthy normal. That makes sense to me; it seems to be what happens to people unless they are heavily influenced by the part of society that insists we should have a 20-something figure all our lives. I think the opposing doctors are more of the "camel's nose under the tent" mindset. If people allow themselves six pounds a decade its likely to get to be more like six pounds a year, and that way lies obesity. I find myself among many people in their later 50s through mid-80s; these are by and large well educated people who are active and generally healthy. Very few can wear the same size clothing they wore at 40; I think most have gained that 6 pounds and sometimes more, but usually not a lot more. I think my gain has been closer to 10 than 6 pounds a year and I wish there were 20 pounds less on my body but I think the unhappiness and stress of determinedly dieting to an arbitrary weight that the body resists strongly is an unnecessary burden. I'm happy to have found out about Dr. Andres' belief -- he had strong medical reasons for believing so, it wasn't a personal prejudice and he was studying the over-50s, which many other doctors don't study. Indeed we have far to much obesity and not nearly enough active people and there are many social reasons for that, it's not just laziness or gluttony as some might say. But, hey, let's enjoy life as long as most things are in moderation, including weight gain.

3 comments:

zippiknits said...

This makes me happy because I'm right on target. My doctor has told me to stay at a higher weight than I want to be so I'm still looking to lose 11 pounds then. good! Interesting post about an interesting man.

Faith said...

I've come to the same conclusion, after having had a rare and weird disease, about five years ago. If I weren't a little overweight, I would have wasted away. It's Cronkhite Canada Syndrome where the diarrhea is continual. It's an adult onset disease; the average age is 59. Most people die from it because if you're 80 or 90 years old, you most probably don't have the strength to fight it off.
Ever since then, my advice is to be ten pounds over your ideal weight. You just might need that little extra weight reserve to fight off disease.

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

June- good post on late age weight gain. When I look at photos of folks that are in their last third of life many have a bit of weight on them that I am sure was not there when they were in their thirties. Our society is so crazed about weight -- they are unforgiving if you do put on some weight. So silly! -- barbara