According to one study, people who look younger are healthier, while people who look older than their actual age are more likely to have health issues.
Some people look younger than their age, while others look older. The researchers wanted to see if this had an impact on health. Their work was published in the British Journal of Dermatology.
Looking younger is associated with better health
To do this, they looked at data from 2,679 men and women aged 51-87, with an average age of 65.8. To measure physical age, the researchers photographed them from the front and in profile, without make-up, cream, or jewelry. A group of 27 people then had to estimate the year of birth of each of the participants, using the photographs as evidence.
Once this was done, the researchers categorized the participants according to their perceived age and analyzed their lifestyle data – body mass index, smoking, exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light – and their health, including kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, lung disease, muscle health, bone health, eye health, hearing loss, and cognitive impairment.
Lower risk of diseases such as osteoporosis and COPD
The researchers have found that people who looked younger than their age had fewer health problems. On average, those five years younger were less likely to suffer from osteoporosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), hearing problems, cataracts, and other eye diseases, and they also performed better in cognitive tests. However, there was no link with osteoarthritis or age-related macular degeneration, a disease that affects the retina.
“If you look younger than you do, the health of your organ systems, your body, and your mind are likely to reflect this,” said Professor Tamar Nijsten, one of the authors, in a statement. “Although this study did not specifically investigate why this is the case, it is likely that the factors that cause changes in facial tissue structures that make us look older, such as the reduction of the hypodermis and the development of wrinkles, also have an impact on tissues in other areas of the body. The study clearly shows that something is happening, probably on a biological level and beyond the usual lifestyle, such as UV exposure or smoking.
The researchers, therefore, believe that this concept of perceived age can be used as a diagnostic criterion. However, further research is needed to clarify this criterion. The limitation of this study is that the participants are mainly from northwestern Europe. Therefore, future research should be conducted on other groups of adults with different ethnic backgrounds.