Tall Women Live Longer, But Size Matters Less for Men

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Height and weight have a greater effect on lifespan in women than in men, Dutch researchers say.

To examine potential links between body size (height and weight), leisure time physical activity, and the likelihood of reaching age 90, and to determine possible differences between men and women, the researchers analyzed data from the Netherlands Cohort Study, which began in 1986 and involved more than 120,000 men and women.

Their research was published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. It involved 7,807 participants (3,646 men, 4,161 women) ages 68 to 70 who provided information about weight, height, weight gain since age 20, and leisure activities like gardening, dog walking, home improvements, walking or biking to work, and recreational sports. The researchers categorized leisure activities into daily quotas of less than 30 minutes, 30 to 60 minutes, and 90 minutes or more. They monitored participants until death or to the age of 90, and adjusted for other lifestyle factors like smoking, alcohol intake, education, and diet.

The 944 women in the study who lived until 90 were taller, weighed less at the start of the study, and had gained less weight since they were 20, on average, than those who died before the age of 90. Women who were taller than 5’ 9” were 31 percent more likely to reach 90 than those 5’ 3” and under. In the 433 men who lived until 90, there was no such association with body size.

In women, 60 minutes of physical activity per day was associated with the best likelihood of reaching 90. But in men, every 30-minute increase in physical activity was associated with a 5 percent increase in the likelihood of living that long. Men who were physically active for more than 90 minutes a day were 39 percent more likely to live to 90 than those who averaged less than 30 minutes of exercise per day.

Sourced from: Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health