Is 60 the New 50? Examining Changes in the Pace of Biological Aging

Morgan Levine, University of Southern California
Eileen Crimmins, University of Southern California

Increases in life expectancy have suggested that the pace of aging may be slowing. However, little is known about whether changes are also taking place on a biological level. We examine the change in biological aging in the U.S. between 1988 and 2010, and estimated the contribution of changes in smoking and obesity prevalence. Our sample included 21,322 persons ages 20-79 from the NHANES III and IV. Biological Age was calculated using nine biomarkers. Results showed that adjusted mean biological age was significantly lower in 2007-2010 versus 1988-1994. However, for those ages 20-39 males experienced greater decreases in biological age than females. Decreases in biological age were also larger for older adults. This was partially explained by behavioral trend, given that older adults, especially males, benefited the most from decreases in smoking prevalence, while younger adults, especially females, were the most negatively affected by increases in obesity prevalence.

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Presented in Session 100: Biodemography of Aging