Do you look young for your age? Study examines effects of aging on body

If you look young for your age, the health of your body and mind is likely a reflection of that.

 Close up macro portrait of an old man with a bucket hat on his head. (photo credit: Kahar Saidyhalam / Wikimedia Commons)
Close up macro portrait of an old man with a bucket hat on his head.
(photo credit: Kahar Saidyhalam / Wikimedia Commons)

People worry that they might seem older than their real age because of their behavior or hobbies. However, researchers warn that if you look old for your age, it may be a sign that you are at higher risk of developing age-related diseases such as osteoporosis, loss of vision or glaucoma.

Scientists in the Netherlands examined the faces of 2,700 people aged 50-90 based on their facial images alone and found that participants who looked about five years younger than their actual age had better cognitive skills. They were also less likely to suffer from the typical physical effects of aging, such as cataracts.

In other words, if you look young for your age, the health of your body and mind is likely a reflection of that.

What kind of data did the researchers look at?

After examining the subjects' faces, the scientists examined lifestyle data such as weight, smoking habits and general health status. The results, published in the British Journal of Dermatology, revealed that the groups that looked five years younger than their age performed better in cognitive tests. The group was also 15% less likely to develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) - a lung disease - and 24% less likely to develop osteoporosis.

 Old man with wrinkles in Don Det in Laos. (credit: Basile Morin/Wikimedia Commons) Old man with wrinkles in Don Det in Laos. (credit: Basile Morin/Wikimedia Commons)

The team of researchers believes that the biological process that makes the face look older, which results in less fat in the face and the subsequent development of wrinkles, is also behind changes in tissue and bone density, as well as aging-related health conditions.