So you are feeling a little blobby after all those holiday indulgences and an incentive to start the New Year with a resolution to lose weight would be more than welcome. What if I told you that being fat isn't just bad for your heart and joints, but it will make you age faster and look older. Intuitively though, the opposite might seem true. Wouldn't the subcutaneous fat of a chubby face fill out those lines nicely - after all, why do people get fillers?

So which is true? Is the battle of the bulge undermining your success as a wrinkle warrior? Or was French actress Catherine Deneuve right when she said a few extra pounds on the hips will save your face from aging trop vite?

Those feeling guilty from too much holiday excess, will be pleased to know that Danish researchers reported that the higher the body mass index the lower the levels of facial aging. But not so fast. A study published just this month claims that in a group of under 45-year old twins, the heavier ones had the most photodamaged skin.

The trouble with this study is that it's all a bit hard to unpick as there are complex relationships between self reported weight, lipid intake and levels of photodamage to the skin. In addition, in individuals older than 45 the relationship was reversed and higher weight was correlated with reduced photodamage. The researchers suggested that although excess fat might make skin more susceptible to UV damage, it could also mask the appearance of wrinkles in older age. Presumably by plumping the wrinkles out.

A rather more self-confident team of researchers from the US and Britain concluded that the more people weigh, the older their cells appear on a molecular level, with obesity adding the equivalent of nearly nine years of age to a person's body.

Skeptics continue to challenge this assertion, saying the researchers had failed to rule out the possibility that other factors may be responsible for the results. People who are overweight, for example, may not get enough exercise, which could account for premature aging.

More recently, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey has studied 1,122 women ages 18 to 76, including 119 who were obese. The researchers took blood samples so they could examine structures inside their white blood cells called telomeres.

Telomeres are the caps at the ends of chromosomes -- the molecules that carry genes. Every time a cell divides, telomeres shorten. In the natural aging process, telomeres eventually get so short that cells can no longer divide, and they then die. As more and more cells reach the end of their telomeres and die, the inexorable process produces the effects of aging. There has a been a recent spate of antiaging creams, such as Osmotics Renovage, YBF Boost and Revive by PureRadiance, that claim to stabilize the telomeres.

The researchers found a direct relationship between body weight and telomere length, with telomere length decreasing with increasing body weight. The lean women had significantly longer telomeres than the heavy women, whose telomeres were significantly longer than those of the obese women. Obesity was defined as a BMI of 30 or higher.

A couple of years ago researchers looked at how obesity was responsible for changes in skin barrier function, sebaceous glands and sebum production, sweat glands, lymphatics, collagen structure and function, wound healing, microcirculation and macrocirculation, and subcutaneous fat. Moreover, obesity is implicated in a wide spectrum of dermatologic diseases (source).

On balance, it could be a good idea to shed a few pounds. We know its good for us in the long run and now it seems that there is the short term gratification of better, younger skin.