One thing’s for sure: we all age. It’s a beautiful fact of life—we are tethered to bodies and cycles of nature. No matter how much we may try to fight or rationalize beyond it, our bodies go through a process of both renewal and degradation over time. And the weight we carry plays a role in these processes.
But! We do have some control over how—and how well—we age. The better we care for ourselves by eating nutritious foods, moving regularly, and managing our sleep and stress, the better our odds of living a long, healthy life.
According to a survey conducted by OnePoll for Found, the average American begins to notice the signs of aging around 42, but 15% noticed themselves getting older before age 35. They reported signs like joint pain and where they carried their weight, as well as chronic conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes, and slower metabolism. The survey also found that Millennials were more likely to invest in anti-aging products and practices, even more than Gen Xers and Baby Boomers.
Turns out, age is more than just a number. Let’s look at the latest research about aging and how weight might impact it.
Research suggests that there’s a strong link between obesity and accelerated aging because both seem to affect the body’s molecular and cellular processes in similar ways—which may lead to:
Increased cell death
Decreased autophagy—which is the process of recycling old and damaged cell parts
Increased DNA damage
Aberrant DNA methylation (DNA methylation turns genes on and off, which regulates epigenetic aging)
Telomere shortening (see more below)
There is a well-known link between telomere length and biological age. Telomeres are proteins that cap the end of your chromosomes. Over time, they become shorter and more frayed—think of the split ends of hair. A 2022 meta-analysis in Frontiers in Nutrition found that obesity is associated with shorter telomere length.
Another recent study examining more than 3,000 Americans found shorter telomere lengths were associated with weight gain over a 10-year period. Other lifestyle factors that may shorten telomeres include smoking, alcohol consumption, low physical activity, and chronic stress.
Put plainly, obesity can be tough on the body and may speed up aging processes. It has even been shown to reduce life expectancy by around six years for men and seven years for women after the age of 40, which is another reason weight care is so important.
Looks can sometimes be deceiving. People with excess weight can appear youthful because as we age, we lose facial fat and tissues begin to sag (hello, au naturel filler!). But the research is clear: Losing excess fat makes us feel younger and can reduce our metabolic age by reducing inflammation.
Lifestyle changes and medication can slow the natural progression of aging and telomere shortening. Some proven solutions include:
Adding in more movement
Regular moderate-to-vigorous exercise can do wonders for your body and mind—making it harder to pack on pounds and slowing down the aging process. The options are endless, so mix it up or try something new like pilates, yoga, rock climbing, biking, or hiking.
Eating a well-balanced diet
Cooking at home is a great way to eat more whole foods and avoid highly processed, lower-quality ingredients found in many packaged grocery items and fast-food restaurants.
Whether you need to go for a walk outdoors or take a long, hot bath, getting beyond tough emotions and back into a more regulated state of mind is key. Recenter yourself often and keep going.
Meditation has been shown to calm the mind and reduce stress—good for everything from cellular regeneration to healthy metabolism and digestion.
Prioritizing consistency over intensity is crucial when shifting and building new habits. “While aging is inevitable, making healthy changes to your lifestyle are preventative care measures that can help mitigate age-related issues like weight gain and chronic conditions,” says Rekha Kumar, M.D., Chief Medical Officer at Found. “Over the past 100 years, we have nearly doubled our life expectancy, so it’s crucial to be proactive about extending our health span and our lifespan. Programs that incorporate guidance to not only help people manage their weight and improve overall lifestyle habits, such as improved sleep, daily movement or taking care of their mental health, can help people maintain their health as they age.”
Ready to take the next step towards a healthier future and more graceful aging? We’re here for you.
Found is among the largest medically-supported weight care clinics in the country, serving nearly 200,000 members to date. To start your journey with Found, take our quiz.