Objective: To examine the hypothesis that mid-life adiposity is associated with a reduced probability of maintaining an optimal health status among those who survive to older ages.\ud \ud Design: Prospective cohort study.\ud \ud Setting: The Nurses’ Health Study, United States.\ud \ud Participants: 17 065 women who survived until at least the age of 70, provided information on occurrence of chronic disease, cognitive function, physical function, and mental health at older ages, and were free from major chronic diseases at mid-life (mean age was 50 at baseline in 1976).\ud \ud Main outcome measures: Healthy survival to age 70 and over was defined as having no history of 11 major chronic diseases and having no substantial cognitive, physical, or mental limitations.\ud \ud Results: Of the women who survived until at least age 70, 1686 (9.9%) met our criteria for healthy survival. Increased body mass index (BMI) at baseline was significantly associated with linearly reduced odds of healthy survival compared with usual survival, after adjustment for various lifestyle and dietary variables (P<0.001 for trend). Compared with lean women (BMI 18.5-22.9), obese women (BMI ≥30) had 79% lower odds of healthy survival (odds ratio 0.21, 95% confidence interval 0.15 to 0.29). In addition, the more weight gained from age 18 until mid-life, the less likely was healthy survival after the age of 70. The lowest odds of healthy survival were among women who were overweight (BMI ≥25) at age 18 and gained ≥10 kg weight (0.18, 0.09 to 0.36), relative to women who were lean (BMI 18.5-22.9) and maintained a stable weight.\ud \ud Conclusions: These data provide evidence that adiposity in mid-life is strongly related to a reduced probability of healthy survival among women who live to older ages, and emphasise the importance of maintaining a healthy weight from early adulthood
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