How excess weight fast-forwards your biological clock

Jul 16, 2023

Being overweight is causally linked to accelerated ageing, evidenced by shorter telomeres, increased frailty, and more pronounced facial ageing. These findings highlight the significance of weight management in countering the effects of rapid ageing.


Key takeaways: Mendelian randomization supports causality between overweight status and accelerated aging


  • Overweight status and ageing: Being overweight isn’t just a concern for current health; it’s directly connected to accelerated ageing processes. This means that the effects of carrying excess weight can manifest in both internal and external signs of ageing
  • Telomere shortening: Telomeres, the protective caps on the ends of our DNA strands, naturally shorten as we age. Overweight individuals tend to have even shorter telomeres, indicating a faster pace of cellular ageing. This can potentially lead to a reduced lifespan and increased susceptibility to age-related diseases
  • Increased frailty: The frailty index measures an individual’s health status, particularly in relation to ageing. A higher index suggests a decline in physical health, resilience, and increased vulnerability to adverse health outcomes. Overweight individuals have been found to have a higher frailty index, emphasising the importance of weight management for maintaining physical robustness as one ages
  • Visible ageing signs: Overweight individuals often exhibit more pronounced signs of facial ageing, which can include wrinkles, sagging, and age spots. This suggests that weight can influence not just how we feel but also how we look as we age


Managing your weight isn’t just about aesthetics or short-term health benefits. It’s a long-term investment in slowing down the ageing process, potentially extending your lifespan, and ensuring a higher quality of life in later years.


Reference: Kuo, Chia-Ling, et al. “Mendelian randomization supports causality between overweight status and accelerated aging.” Aging Cell, vol. 22, no. 4, 2023, e13899. Wiley Online Library,