We all know that the choices we make affect our health and longevity—but did you ever wonder if you could measure what that impact was right now? Could you know, right now, if your body is actually older—or younger—than its chronological age? And if so, what does that exactly mean?

Burgers and fries, or fruits and veggies?

I know what you’re thinking—“Hmmm…maybe I don’t want to know.” You’re lamenting all those burgers and fries that you’ve chowed down over the years. I get it—I’m an “Everything’s better with butter girl,” myself. Always have been. Or maybe cheese. Or maybe both…

Or maybe you’ve been really good like my friend, Sherry. As long as I’ve known her—we worked together when I was in my 20s and she was a mere child of 19—she has been health conscious and trim. Sherry and I would meet for lunch at least once a month when we lived up north. All morning, I would think about what I was going to order, mentally drooling over a cheeseburger or Reuben. I could see them waiting for me. When the time came to order, Sherry would say happily, “Salad, please.” The words would just fall off her lips. It was so natural for her. Then I would order. “Yes, make that two, please…” I would say, visions of cheeseburgers and Reubens totally disintegrating. I caved, every time. To this day, Sherry is the picture of health—and yes, she still says, “Yes,” to those salads. I’m not quite as good about that but thankfully, healthwise, I’ve done okay too.

Years from now, I bet Sherry will be the equivalent of a man that I met a few years ago. I was visiting an older family friend in a nursing home. A man visiting our friend’s roommate popped his head in to ask where the roommate was. “Down in the dining room,” I responded. Getting there was a little tricky so I offered to walk with him. What I hadn’t expected was the effort it took for me to keep up with this 82-year old, who had just played a set of tennis. Not only was he quick, he was sharp-as-a-tack, mentally. I’ve never forgotten him.

The RealAge Test®

So, do you want to know how old your body really is versus its calendar age? You can, thanks to Michael Roizen, MD and Keith Roach, MD. These docs, along with a team of medical and scientific experts, developed and patented the RealAge® Test, a scientifically-based, health-risk assessment that incorporates health and lifestyle information to determine whether you’re younger or older than what your chronological birthdate says. And according to an independent study that compared tens of thousands of respondents’ tests with death records, the RealAge® Test results are quite accurate.

Dr. Roizen and Dr. Roach are part of Sharecare, a digital healthcare company/health and wellness engagement platform that provides a one-stop destination for people to both manage their health and find support on their health journey through information, tools, and messaging. Sharecare was founded by digital health pioneer, Jeff Arnold, and cardiothoracic surgeon and Emmy award-winning TV personality, Dr. Mehmet Oz, in partnership with Harpo Productions, Sony Pictures Television, and Discovery Communications.

The RealAge® Test uses algorithms based on a vast amount of published data, information that a team of medical and scientific professionals continually review. More than 45 million people have taken the test since its inception in 1998,[i]—and it has been updated and validated along the way. In 2009, the test underwent an update, prompted by new findings from several large, long-term studies. The overhaul incorporated advances in science, math, and technology, and while much of the original test remained intact, certain factors were added or removed, based on new information. In 2014, a study validating the RealAge® Test results appeared in PLOS ONE, an international, peer-reviewed journal that publishes primary scientific and medical research.

The study to determine the test’s accuracy was conducted by two researchers from the School of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego—professor James H. Fowler, and his PhD student, William R. Hobbs. The pair decided to look at the validity of the RealAge® Test because 70-90 percent of Americans sought out health information online, and many influential studies recommended that healthcare professionals should only recommend high quality or credible online sources of information. So, the researchers pondered, was the RealAge® Test worthy of recommendation?

Does it really work?

To uncover the accuracy of the RealAge® Test in determining the predictability of someone’s mortality risk, Fowler and Hobbs matched the results of 190,000 RealAge® Tests of California respondents to death records from the California Department of Public Health. They conducted the study independently in cooperation with Sharecare. According to Fowler, “We expected there to be some relationship between mortality and the RealAge® Test, but we were amazed by its accuracy. What our study shows is that if you are 50 but have a RealAge® of 55, your life expectancy is five years shorter than the average 50-year old. By contrast, if you are 50 and have taken good care of yourself, and have a RealAge® of 47, you can expect to live three years longer than the average 50-year old. Bottom line, the RealAge® score is more accurate than calendar age alone, and is even more accurate than another health score widely-used by doctors, called the Framingham ATP-III.”[i]

The Framingham ATP-III refers to the Framingham Risk Score, a numerical assessment of someone’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease. It is based on findings from the Framingham Heart Study, a renowned multigenerational study of common factors and characteristics that contribute to heart disease. Having started in 1948, the Framingham Heart Study is the longest-running study of cardiovascular disease, and is now in its fourth generation of participants. It is funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, and run in partnership with the Boston University School of Public Health and the Boston University School of Medicine. The study’s publishing body is the ATP III—the Adult Treatment Panel III—a panel of experts from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, which is part of the National Institutes of Health.

A comprehensive and holistic approach to mortality risk

According to Dr. Roach, because of the RealAge® Test’s more comprehensive and holistic approach in looking at mortality risk, it incorporates many more pieces of information than were available to the Framingham ATP-III study. The broader factors in the RealAge® Test are major predictors of someone’s overall risk of dying, rather than cardiac and cardiovascular mortality and disability, which is the focus of the Framingham study.[i] For example, while the Framingham study, like the RealAge® Test, looked at tobacco use, the Framingham study didn’t consider food choices, how much physical activity the subject typically engaged in, or how the subject managed stress.  

Knowledge is power

So, do you want to know your body’s real age? If so, the RealAge® Test takes less than 30 minutes to complete. You will need some specific info, such as your total cholesterol, HDL (high-density lipoprotein—“good” cholesterol), and blood pressure levels. Other questions are based on your lifestyle, like smoking, alcohol, and stress factors. At the end of the test, you will get a breakdown of what is making your body older, what’s keeping it on track, and what is helping to keep your body younger than your calendar years. It’s a wealth of information that can help you get healthier, and it’s free. Check it out—you’re only a click away!

Stay safe, healthy, and happy!

Until next time,

[1] https://www.sharecare.com

[11] Marketwired; (2014 January 20); Research Validating RealAge®Test Published in Peer Reviewed Journal PLOS ONE; https://finance.yahoo.com/news/research-validating-realage-r-test-150418112.html

[111] Cristol, Hope; (medically reviewed 2020 February); New Study Confirms Accuracy of the RealAge Test; sharecare.com; https://www.sharecare.com/health/longevity/article/study-confirms-accuracy-of-realage-test

Copyright 2020 – 2023 Maggie Stenman Communications, LLC