Consistent Healthy Habits May Offset Serious Health Effects in Old Age, Research Finds

It’s never too late to make healthier lifestyle choices, but you shouldn’t wait too long, because the sooner a person adopts healthy habits, the less likely he or she is to suffer from serious health effects in the future.

New research published last week in JAMA shows that people with obesity in middle age are at a greater risk of higher medical costs and lifestyle limitations than people of moderate weight. They are also more likely to suffer from what researchers call the “cumulative burden of morbidity” later in life.

The study focused on the connection between disease burden, life span, and healthcare costs in adults 65 years and older who had obesity in their forties. Researchers found that cumulative median healthcare costs among participants classified as overweight were $12,390 more than those with “normal” BMIs (a BMI range of 18-24), while costs were estimated to be $23,396 higher among those with obesity.

Dr. Mir Ali, a bariatric surgeon and medical director of MemorialCare Surgical Weight Loss Center at Orange Coast Medical Center in California, said in an interview with Healthline that the earlier a person corrects bad eating and lifestyle habits, the more likely they are to correct the negative effects of obesity. “Once organ damage starts occurring due to obesity, the effects are harder to reverse.”

When it comes to weight management, the CDC recommends individuals avoid fads and crash dieting, and instead seek gradual and steady results through healthy eating and regular physical activity. Getting started is as simple as making a commitment, taking stock of where you are, and setting realistic goals.

A Healthy Monday routine can help individuals of all ages, backgrounds, and ability levels establish the foundation necessary to support more consistent healthy activities. Monday-focused content can help you stay on track with mindful eating, at-home exercises, stress-relieving visualizations, and nutritious plant-based recipes. Other resources that address obesity prevention include the Healthy Monday Diabetes Prevention Package and Cancer Prevention Package.