1. 1

Higher BMI is associated with epigenetic age acceleration.

Obesity exerts profound effects on the human body, ranging from alterations in the gut microbiota to an increased risk for many chronic diseases. Body mass index (BMI) is a proxy for body fatness and is strongly correlated with disease risk with aging. Findings from a recent study suggest that BMI is associated with epigenetic age acceleration.

Epigenetic age acceleration is a phenomenon that occurs when an individual’s epigenetic (biological) age exceeds their chronological age and can be the result of either intrinsic or extrinsic factors. Intrinsic factors are largely driven by internal physiological factors such as normal metabolism and genetics. Extrinsic factors are those associated with lifestyle and environmental exposures, such as diet, smoking, or exercise.

To rule out the effects of genetics and shared environments, the investigators used data from the Finnish Twin Cohort, an ongoing study of twins and twin families. They gathered BMI data and metabolic health parameters for more than 1,400 participants, including both monozygotic (identical) and dizygotic (fraternal) twins. They measured the participants' epigenetic ages using GrimAge, a type of epigenetic clock that predicts lifespan and healthspan in units of months or years, and tests the effects of lifestyle on biological aging.

They found that for every one-unit increase in BMI, the twins exhibited approximately one month of accelerated epigenetic aging. In twin pairs where one twin was heavier than the other, the heavier twin’s epigenetic age was approximately 5 months older than the lighter twin. They also found that age acceleration was associated with insulin resistance, a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.

These findings suggest that having a higher BMI accelerates epigenetic aging and underscores the importance of maintaining a healthy body weight throughout the lifespan. To learn more about epigenetics and accelerated epigenetic aging, check out these resources, including an overview article and these episodes featuring epigenetic experts Dr. Steve Horvath and Dr. Morgan Levine.

  1. You must first login , or register before you can comment.

    Markdown formatting available

This news story was included in a recent science digest.

The science digest is a special email we send out just twice per month to members of our premium community. It covers in-depth science on familiar FoundMyFitness related topics.

If you're interested in trying out a few issues for free, enter your email below or click here to learn more about the benefits of premium membership here.

Verifying email address...