Sometimes a senior’s donut hole really is just a pastry.
For years, the clientele at Mahopac, NY’s William Koehler Senior Center enjoyed free day-old donuts and other baked goods donated by area bakeries. Then the city council passed a law forbidding the donations.
According to city council member Karl Rove:
“We want our seniors to live as long as possible, and these sweets can only contribute to obesity. With obesity come high blood pressure, circulation problems, and diabetes. So we are doing this for their own good.”
Even Michael F. Jacobson, the Executive Director of The Center for Science in the Public Interest chimed in on the matter:
“Older people have high rates of heart disease and high blood pressure and…senior citizen centers, nursing homes, and assisted-living centers should not be worsening the health problems of seniors.
The affected seniors organized a protest to keep the free donuts coming.
One center resident, Mr. Fairbanks grumbled, “Where do they get this attitude? They act like they are our parents.”
The seniors argued that no public funds were being used to purchase the baked goods, and their eight decades or so of life certainly should have earned them the right to eat what they want. And now it seems they might also have science on their side.
For people over 75, a sugary, fatty diet doesn’t make a difference.
A restrictive diet probably won’t improve their health or help them to live longer. So says a decade-long study sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture and researched by Penn State, the Geisinger Healthcare System, and the University of Alabama.
Researchers identified three classes of diets: sweets and dairy, characterized by lots of baked goods, coffee and tea, dairy-based desserts, and very little poultry; health conscious, which includes good grains, fish, nuts, and not much fried or processed food or soft drinks; and the Western pattern, defined by alcohol, fried food, sodas, eggs, breads, fats, and not much fruit or protein. With age 75 as a starting point, they found that the class of diet didn’t correlate with any particular pattern of health outcome. Except for a higher risk of hypertension for the sweets and dairy segment, there was no relationship between diet and health when it came to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, or even death.
This is not to say that clean living doesn’t pay a dividend.
The course of your health is pretty well set by age 75. Seniors who had lived on prudent diets all their lives were likely to have entered the study in better health, and those who ate recklessly for decades entered with far more complications. Nobody began the study with a clean slate. What the results indicate is that the choices you make from that point on aren’t going to make much of a difference. You can watch your fats and salt and sugar for the rest of your days, or you can say Screw it, and eat donuts. Your future health and longevity is going to be what it’s going to be no matter what you choose to eat.
The results of the study have been published in The Journal of Nutrition Health and Aging.
You should forward it to your grandma.