Does Dieting Make You Look Old?

Scientists have found that yo-yo dieting makes your face look older and women with more fat in their faces look younger as they age.

Researchers at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine studied the body mass index of 200 pairs of female identical twins for two years, reports The Telegraph. Doctors chose twins so that they could control for genetic factors and focus only on environmental factors. The study found that twins with a BMI 4 points higher than their twin looked younger by two to four years. Doctors say this is because people who have lost weight have less volume in the face. "This loss of volume creates jowls and makes wrinkles develop," he says. "The older we get, the more the face gets depleted. When you lose weight, this look is enhanced and aging is accelerated," says Dr. Bahman Guyuron, lead study author, according to The New York Daily News. Guyuron said the findings apply only to women over 40, and that, "For women under 40, gaining weight obscures the facial definition that is inherent in a younger woman."

According to the study, women who are concerned about aging should focus more on maintaining a healthy weight than extreme dieting. "Even though being really thin is perhaps in vogue, we are not advocating that you lose too much weight because even though your body may look thin, your face will look older." Doctors say that yo-yo dieting also ages the skin by creating volume loss and repeatedly stretching facial ligaments.

The study also identified being divorced and being on antidepressants as factors that made the twins look older, in addition to the known culprits of thinness, smoking, heavy drinking, and exposure to the sun. "The twin who is divorced appears about 1.7 years older than the twin who is not divorced," said Guyuron. The research suggests that stress could be to blame, as well as the relaxation of facial muscles, which can be a long term effect of taking anti-depressants.

"The idea that being in a happy relationship is going to keep you looking younger, for me is a no-brainer. Being in a happy marriage, or indeed any social support system, has a protective effect on our health and our looks," said Dr. Linda Papadopoulous, a psychologist who studies body image according to The Telegraph. Papadopoulous said the findings of the report were positive, "but only if we read them in context." She added, "it is really encouraging because it suggests that if you learn to cope with stress, and learn to accept your body, then you cannot only change the way you think, but the way you look, too."

Dieting 'Makes You Look Older' [The Telegraph]
Study: Being Too Thin Will Age Your Face [The New York Daily News]
The Secret of Ageing Beautifully - Just Like Nigella! [The Telegraph]

[Image via Flickr.]