Sixty is the New Fifty: Age-shaming in America.

Credit: © freefly / Fotolia
Americans may be aging more slowly than they were two decades ago.

The original title of this research study issued by the University of Southern California was:  Is 60 the New 50? Examining Changes in Biological Age Over the Past Two Decades.  It was changed by someone to a more accurate form.

Well, at the risk of being a wet blanket, seventy is seventy, twenty is twenty, and there is no way for them to be anything other than what they are.

A "sixty is the new fifty" headline is an advertising slogan designed to make people feel guilty about acting their age in an effort to sell them products, services, foods or medicines they really don't need or want.  Shame on the researchers at USC for mislabeling their research.

Saying sixty is the new fifty implies that I must live a certain way when I'm sixty or something is wrong with me.  Right, and I should exhibit a certain body composition with the right hair cut, wearing the right clothes and drive the right car or something is wrong with me.  Get real.  Who's business is it how old I choose to act?  Or dress.  Or comport myself?  A bunch of marcomm managers who get paid for herding a target demographic groups into selected pens prior to fleecing?  Or a group of scientists whose research is funding by XYZ Corporation?  Sorry, too old to fall for that again.

To put it in a simple, declarative sentence: implying someone at sixty should be acting like someone at the age fifty is, to adapt the a current phrase, age-shaming. 

What an honest headline on this topic would point out is people are healthier throughout our population and a few are choosing to live a more active life than others of their same age. Some people always have.  And others always haven't.  What is newsworthy is that a somewhat larger proportion of people at a certain age are more active than researchers projected, so the best headline would be, "Researchers Wrong Again on How People Choose to Behave." 

What I object to is the age shaming.

Great, now go away so I can enjoy my grandkids and write in peace.  Sheesh, what a bunch of schmucks!

Here's the press release on this research.
*  *  *  *  *

Americans slow down the clock of age

Humans may not be able to turn back time, but a
new study finds that Americans are slowing it down.

A close examination of national health data indicate that the rate of biological aging appears to be more delayed for all Americans, but particularly for men, which may extend their lives. Researchers cite advancements in medicine as one possible reason for the deceleration.

A new study by University of Southern California and Yale University researchers suggests that at least part of the gains in life expectancy over recent decades may be due to a change in the rate of biological aging, rather than simply keeping ailing people alive.

"This is the first evidence we have of delayed 'aging' among a national sample of Americans," said senior author Eileen M. Crimmins, University Professor and AARP Professor of Gerontology at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology.

As noted in the study by Crimmins and lead author Morgan E. Levine, assistant professor at the Yale Center for Research on Aging: "A deceleration of the human aging process, whether accomplished through environment or biomedical intervention, would push the timing of aging-related disease and disability incidence closer to the end of life."

Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) III (1988-19994) and NHANES IV (2007-2010), the researchers examined how biological age, relative to chronological age, changed in the U.S. while considering the contributions of health behaviors. Biological age was calculated using several indicators for metabolism, inflammation, and organ function, including levels of hemoglobin, total cholesterol, creatinine, alkaline phosphatase, albumin, and C-reactive protein in blood as well as blood pressure and breath capacity data.

While all age groups experienced some decrease in biological age, the results suggest that not all people may be faring the same. Older adults experienced the greatest decreases in biological age, and men experienced greater declines in biological age than females; these differences were partially explained by changes in smoking, obesity, and medication use, Crimmins and Levine explained.

"While improvements may take time to manifest, and thus are more apparent at older ages, this could also signal problems for younger cohorts, particularly females, who -- if their improvements are more minimal -- may not see the same gains in life expectancy as experienced by the generations that came before them," said Levine, who received both her PhD in Gerontology in 2015 and her BA in Psychology in 2008 from USC.

Slowing the pace of aging, along with increasing life expectancy, has important social and economic implications. The study suggests that modifying health behaviors and using prescription medications does indeed have significant impact on the health of the population.

"Life extension without changing the aging rate will have detrimental implications. Medical care costs will rise, as people spend a higher proportion of their lives with disease and disability," Levine said. "However, lifespan extension accomplished through a deceleration of the aging process will lead to lower healthcare expenditures, higher productivity, and greater well-being."

The study first appeared in the journal Demography on March 6, 2018. This research was supported by the National Institute on Aging grants P30 AG17265 (Crimmins), T32-AG00037 (Crimmins), and 4R00AG052604-02 (Levine).

Story Source:  Materials provided by University of Southern California.  Morgan E. Levine, Eileen M. Crimmins. Is 60 the New 50? Examining Changes in Biological Age Over the Past Two Decades. Demography, 2018.


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