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Does Looking Older Mean You’re Unhealthy?

By Elizabeth Thielke / Posted on 05 January 2011

It’s widely assumed that if someone looks older than their actual age, that it’s a sign of poor health. But, now it’s been shown that it’s not necessarily so. Now, it’s thought that someone has to look 10 years older than their actual age (*checks mirror*) before it’s a predictor of compromised health:

Researchers at the University of Toronto found that 99 percent of people who look 10 or more years older than their age have poor mental or physical health, the study found.

The researchers had 126 people ages 30 to 70 fill out a questionnaire that scored their physical and mental health. Then they took photos of the patients and gave them to 58 doctors to assess how old the patients looked. Doctors then guessed how healthy the patients were.

The doctors were unable to predict the health statuses of patients who looked up to five years older than their actual age. But doctors were able to accurately guess the health statuses of patients who looked 10 or more years older than they were, the study said.

It’s a good reminder for healthcare professionals in particular to not make judgments about a patient’s health as looks aren’t always a reliable sign.

-Elizabeth Thielke

 

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