Israeli researchers studied a population of Ashkenazi Jews who have lived to age 95 and older and found that their eating and lifestyle habits were no better than those of the general population.
In fact, men in the long-lived group drank slightly more and exercised less than their average counterparts, the findings in the online edition of Journal of the American Geriatrics Society said.
“This study suggests that centenarians may possess additional longevity genes that help to buffer them against the harmful effects of an unhealthy lifestyle,” said senior author Nir Barzilai, director of the Institute for Aging Research at Yeshiva University’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
The study involved 477 Ashkenazi Jews aged 95 to 122 who were living independently. A total of 75 percent were women. All were enrolled in an ongoing study that aims to uncover the secrets to longevity.
Overall, the elder group had similar habits in terms of height-weight ratio, smoking, exercise level and diet as similarly matched people in the general population.
Data on comparison subjects came from 3,164 people who had been born around the same time as the centenarians and were examined between 1971 and 1975, while participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
Twenty-four percent of long-living men drank alcohol daily, compared with 22 percent of the general population, while 43 percent of the older group exercised regularly compared with 57 percent of regular men.
While people in both groups were just as likely to be overweight, the longer-living group was less likely to reach higher levels of obesity.