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February 21, 1986

Some medical maxims do not age well: Andres

Author Affiliations

1985-1986 Morris Fishbein Fellow

JAMA. 1986;255(7):867. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03370070017003

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Reubin Andres, MD, might be considered a gerontological iconoclast. As the chief of clinical physiology at the National Institute on Aging's Gerontology Research Center in Baltimore, he is waging an assault on several medical maxims. Andres questions whether the definition of obesity, diabetes mellitus, and even disease itself is age-dependent.

This is nowhere more evident than in his reexamination of the "rocking-chair logic [that] tells you it's bad to gain weight as you get older." At the recent National Institutes of Health consensus development conference in Bethesda, Md, on health implications of obesity (JAMA [MEDICAL NEWS] 1985; 254:1878), Andres urged that the time-honored weight/mortality tables be adjusted according to age.

These tables, initially published by Metropolitan Life Insurance Company in 1942, and updated in 1959 and 1983, are used to counsel overweight patients, calculate ideal weight for an individual, and assess health risks. The tables take into account sex and