“I never worry about diets. The only carrots that interest me are the number you get in a diamond.”~Mae West

Well, that attitude may have worked for the undisputed sexual symbol of frankness, fascination and controversy of the 20th century, but for the rest of us, and especially those over 50, watching what we eat is an all-too-familiar activity that determines not only how we look but, as the research suggests, how we feel.

Christmas tree made of kiwi and fruit jelly on a plate with fir branches and decorationsGetty

In a recent study at Dartmouth Centers for Health and Aging at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, older men and women who were overweight or obese at age 65 spent up to 17% more on healthcare throughout their lifetimes.

Research has told us again and again that excess weight can put people at risk for numerous health issues, and the data is even more compelling for older Americans who aren’t moving as much as they once were and who may already be facing health issues for other reasons.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Obesity is common, serious and costly,” affecting about 93.3 million U.S. adults in 2016.  The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the United States was $147 billion in 2008 and the medical cost for people who have obesity was $1,429 higher than those of normal weight.