A recent insight has pointed out that looking older is not an indicator of poor health.
The research found that a person needed to look at least 10 years older than their actual age before assumptions about their health could be made.
"Few people are aware that when physicians describe their patients to other physicians, they often include an assessment of whether the patient looks older than his or her actual age," said Dr. Stephen Hwang, a research scientist at St. Michael's Hospital and an associate professor at the University of Toronto.
"This long standing medical practice assumes that people who look older than their actual age are likely to be in poor health, but our study shows this isn't always true."
The study found that when a physician rated an individual as looking up to five years older than their actual age, it had little value in predicting whether or not the person was in poor health. However, when a physician thought that a person looked 10 or more years older than their actual age, 99 per cent of these individuals had very poor physical or mental health.
"Physicians have simply assumed that their quick assessment of how old a person looks has diagnostic value," explains Hwang.
"We were really surprised to find that people have to look a decade older than their actual age before it's a reliable sign that they're in poor health. It was also very interesting to discover that many people who look their age are in poor health. Doctors need to remember that even if patients look their age, we shouldn't assume that their health is fine."
The study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.