A new study has found that those who gain pounds in later life are more likely to live for longer than those who remain slim.

Don’t go and order pizza just yet though, as the research says it’s best to gain the pounds slowly, later on.

Researchers from Ohio State University looked at data on two generations of people.

Their study showed that people who started adulthood at a normal weight and later became overweight – but never obese – tended to live the longest.

The key point there was never to become obese.  Adults who fit this definition of slowly gaining weight lived longer than those who remained in a normal range throughout.

In comparison, those who started as obese and continued to get bigger had the highest mortality rate of those surveyed.

Two Generations

The study examined two generations, and found some alarming results for the younger generation.

Researched showed they are becoming overweight and obese sooner in their lives than their parent. Therefore they were more likely to have deaths linked to increasing obesity.

Being overweight is officially defined as having a body mass index (BMI) greater than or equal to 25. Obesity starts with a BMI greater than or equal to 30.

Hui Zheng is the study author at Ohio State University. “The impact of weight gain on mortality is complex. It depends on both the timing and the magnitude of weight gain and where BMI started,” he explained.

“The main message is that for those who start at a normal weight in early adulthood, gaining a modest amount of weight throughout life and entering the overweight category in later adulthood can actually increase the probability of survival.”

Data was examined from 4,576 people from the original Framingham Heart Study (FHR). This was a long-term, ongoing cardiovascular study of Framingham residents. They also then looked at the results for 3,753 of their children to see how the generations shape up.

The original heart study started in 1948 and ended in 2010, while their children were followed from 1971 to 2014. Most of the original members had died by the end of the study. This meant the results could examine how BMI impacts the age of death.

Of the 4,576 parents, there were 3,913 deaths, and of the 3,753 offspring, there were 967 deaths.

Risks Of Obesity

In both generations, those who started at normal weight and moved to being overweight later in life, were found to be the most likely to survive.

The least likely to survive were those who started as obese and continued to gain weight.

‘The higher BMI trajectories in the younger generation tend to shift upward at earlier ages relative to their parents,’ Zheng said.

“Even though the mortality risks associated with obesity trajectories have decreased across the generations, their contributions to population deaths increased from 5.4 per cent in the original cohort to 6.4 per cent in the offspring cohort. That’s because more people are in the obesity trajectories in the offspring cohort.”

This study has been published in the journal Annals of Epidemiology.

Zheng added: ‘Now, with this study, we know more about weight trends earlier in life and how they are related to mortality”

Are you surprised by the results?

Images via Alamy.