Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Looking older than your age may not be a sign of poor health

Date:
November 7, 2010
Source:
St. Michael's Hospital
Summary:
Even though most adults want to avoid looking older than their actual age, new research shows that looking older does not necessarily point to poor health. The study found that a person needed to look at least 10 years older than their actual age before assumptions about their health could be made.

New research shows that even though most adults want to avoid looking older than their actual age, looking older does not necessarily point to poor health.
Credit: iStockphoto/Dieter Hawlan

Even though most adults want to avoid looking older than their actual age, research led by St. Michael's Hospital shows that looking older does not necessarily point to poor health. The study found that a person needed to look at least 10 years older than their actual age before assumptions about their health could be made.

Related Articles


"Few people are aware that when physicians describe their patients to other physicians, they often include an assessment of whether the patient looks older than his or her actual age," says Dr. Stephen Hwang, a research scientist at St. Michael's Hospital and an associate professor at the University of Toronto. "This long standing medical practice assumes that people who look older than their actual age are likely to be in poor health, but our study shows this isn't always true."

For patients, it means looking a few years older than their age does not always indicate poor health status. The study found that when a physician rated an individual as looking up to five years older than their actual age, it had little value in predicting whether or not the person was in poor health. However, when a physician thought that a person looked 10 or more years older than their actual age, 99 per cent of these individuals had very poor physical or mental health.

"Physicians have simply assumed that their quick assessment of how old a person looks has diagnostic value," explains Dr. Hwang. "We were really surprised to find that people have to look a decade older than their actual age before it's a reliable sign that they're in poor health. It was also very interesting to discover that many people who look their age are in poor health. Doctors need to remember that even if patients look their age, we shouldn't assume that their health is fine."

The researchers studied 126 people between the ages of 30 to 70 who were visiting a doctor's office. Participants completed a survey that accurately determined whether they had poor physical or mental health. Each person was photographed, and the photographs were shown to 58 physicians who were told each person's actual age and asked to rate how old the person looked.

The study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, provides new insights and questions into the value and limitations of a long standing medical practice of judging a person's health by how old they appear.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by St. Michael's Hospital. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Stephen W. Hwang, Mina Atia, Rosane Nisenbaum, Dwayne E. Pare, Steve Joordens. Is Looking Older than One’s Actual Age a Sign of Poor Health? Journal of General Internal Medicine, 2010; DOI: 10.1007/s11606-010-1537-0

Cite This Page:

St. Michael's Hospital. "Looking older than your age may not be a sign of poor health." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 November 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101105124239.htm>.
St. Michael's Hospital. (2010, November 7). Looking older than your age may not be a sign of poor health. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101105124239.htm
St. Michael's Hospital. "Looking older than your age may not be a sign of poor health." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101105124239.htm (accessed October 31, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, October 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Melafind: Spotting Melanoma Without a Biopsy

Melafind: Spotting Melanoma Without a Biopsy

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) The MelaFind device is a pain-free way to check suspicious moles for melanoma, without the need for a biopsy. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Battling Multiple Myeloma

Battling Multiple Myeloma

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) The answer isn’t always found in new drugs – repurposing an ‘old’ drug that could mean better multiple myeloma treatment, and hope. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chronic Inflammation and Prostate Cancer

Chronic Inflammation and Prostate Cancer

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) New information that is linking chronic inflammation in the prostate and prostate cancer, which may help doctors and patients prevent cancer in the future. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sickle Cell: Stopping Kids’ Silent Strokes

Sickle Cell: Stopping Kids’ Silent Strokes

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) Blood transfusions are proving crucial to young sickle cell patients by helping prevent strokes, even when there is no outward sign of brain injury. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins