Have you ever heard someone say “Losing weight makes you look younger”? I’ve heard that all of my life. I’ve seen it listed all over the place as a “health and beauty” tip for years.
Not that I’ve ever tried it of course…
However, recently I’ve also heard the opposite is also true, and that getting fat can make you look younger as well. In fact, a friend of mine called me up the other day and said that he gained a few pounds on his vacation but looked in the mirror and said he looked five years younger.
He thought it was because his skin stretched out a bit and got rid of wrinkles. I wasn’t so sure so I decided to look into the matter.
Especially since I just seem to keep gaining weight and don’t want to age regress into a baby.
So is it true that getting fat can make you look younger? Let’s take a look at the science real quick and then we’ll decide.
A Scientific Analysis
I’ve been running a scientific analysis on myself by steadily gaining weight since…well since I was born. I don’t think I’ve lost a significant amount of weight. However, since I don’t have a control (a requirement apparently) no scientific journal wants to study me.
However, there are real studies that we can look at.
In December 2018, the University of California San Diego School of Medicine published the results of a study that revealed that there is a link between a layer of fat underneath the skin, known as subcutaneous fat, and a youthful appearance.
As they explain it, when children are born, they have a strong layer of dermal fibroblasts, a special type of cell located deep within our skin. That’s part of the reason why babies have fat, adorable, little faces.
However, as we age, those fibroblasts become less effective at converting into fat, which leads to people showing their age. Fat people, therefore, will tend to have a natural advantage in this department and be able to convert their dermal fibroblasts into fatty tissue, thus giving a more youthful look.
In the study, they gave mice a protein called “transforming growth factor beta” which restored those fibroblasts to their young function and allowed them to convert to fat cells again. According to the scientists, this made the mice look younger.
How they ascertained this, however, I have no idea. Probably with witchcraft.
So we’ll just take to their word for it. If you showed me a lineup of mouse faces and asked me to guess their ages, I think I’d do rather poorly. Maybe that’s why I’m a writer and not a scientist.
There have been several other studies since that time that have confirmed the findings, including one from the International Journal of Molecular Sciences published in November 2020.
But what about humans? Where are those experiments?
Does Getting Fat Make You Look Younger?
I realize that science might not be the strong suit of everyone reading this, so I’ll simplify things a little bit for those who might not have followed the previous section.
Yes, it is true that fat people can look younger than non-fat people. Especially if we’re taking the signs of youth to be better skin and a plumper face.
Babies look young because they have a bunch of fat on their cute little baby faces. Fat people also tend to also have fat under the skin on their faces, which makes them look younger (or at least, we perceive them as more child-like which makes us think they look younger than they are).
In addition to the scientific research listed above, fat people also tend to have fewer wrinkles and age lines because of that layer of subcutaneous fat. It can also lead to an increased amount of collagen, which is the protein that makes skin more elastic and less wrinkly.
So Is It Worth It To Gain a Few Pounds?
Whether it’s worth it for you to gain a few extra pounds to look a few years younger is up to you. Only you can know the answer to that question because it will depend on a lot of different factors.
However, most of the weight that I gain seems to go straight to my belly, and, as far as I can tell, it hasn’t helped out my youthfulness much.
That being said, I’m not going to go into the same tired “it’s not worth it!” speech that every article on this subject does, including the study I referenced earlier. I’m trying my best not to go into a big rant against the “health and wellness industry” here.
The one thing the study did point out that I should mention is that these fibroblasts also help the skin fight off infection. Having them convert to fat cells can lessen their ability to fight off these infections.
Now, since big and heavy people tend to have sufficient skin problems already (rashes, skin tags, etc.) I wouldn’t recommend doing anything that comes with additional complications.
In fact, if you have a compromised immune system or other health problems, it could be dangerous. However, if you don’t get sick very often and feel like you have a good immune system, why not? The important thing is to feel confident with your body, right?
Other (Better) Tips to Look Younger
If you decide you’d like to look a few years younger but you want to go in a different direction with it, here are a few things that you can do.
First, a good moisturizer won’t get rid of your wrinkles or stop them from forming but it will make them less noticeable. For men, I’d go with Cetaphil because it’s so manly. I don’t really have a pulse on what women like and my wife uses about 37 different moisturizers there so, women, you’re on your own. Not that you should take my advice anyway.
Another great idea is to get a good skincare routine that works for your face and skin tone. I’ve had probably a dozen women in my life explain their routines and suggest one for me but I’m pretty fine with how I look. I appreciate the thought but it’s a bit too much work for me, I think.
Using sunscreen is another great way to protect your skin from wrinkles or other effects of the aging process and I don’t just mean on an 80+ degree day. Most people seem to think that the sun’s rays don’t affect them if it’s not a hot summer day, which is not the case.
According to a nutritionist friend of mine, wearing too much makeup can also make you look older. As a man, I never would have thought of that and I have no clue if it’s true or not but she has an encyclopedic knowledge of everything to do with makeup and skincare, so I believe her.
She also offered other great tips like getting enough sleep, avoiding alcohol, staying hydrated, and getting enough collagen to keep the skin elastic and prevent wrinkles, as noted above. She also mentioned exercise but I’m not really into that kind of thing.
To sum up, yes, it has been scientifically proven that getting fat can make you look younger. Having extra fat under the skin on our faces can stop visible signs of aging like wrinkles.
Besides, have you ever seen an obese person who looks super old? No? Oh right, it’s because I’ll probably die young (yes, I know that was dark).
So if you’re comfortable with your weight and don’t want to gain a few pounds to look younger, there are a few other things you can try, like getting more sleep, drinking more water, and investing in a good moisturizer.
So whichever you decide works for you, good luck!