Is older colder or colder older? The association of age with body temperature in 18,630 individuals

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2011 May;66(5):487-92. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glr001. Epub 2011 Feb 15.


In animal studies, caloric restriction resulting in increased longevity is associated with a reduction in body temperature, which is strain specific and likely under genetic control. Small studies in humans have suggested that temperatures may be lower among elderly populations, usually attributed to loss of thermoregulation. We analyzed cross-sectional data from 18,630 white adults aged 20-98 years (mean 58.3 years) who underwent oral temperature measurement as part of a standardized health appraisal at a large U.S. health maintenance organization. Overall, women had higher mean temperatures (97.5 ± 1.2°F) than men (97.2 ± 1.1°F; p < .0001). Mean temperature decreased with age, with a difference of 0.3°F between oldest and youngest groups after controlling for sex, body mass index, and white blood cell count. The results are consistent with low body temperature as a biomarker for longevity. Prospective studies are needed to confirm whether this represents a survival advantage associated with lifetime low steady state temperature.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Temperature / physiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Longevity / physiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged


  • Biomarkers