George Johnson, considered California’s oldest living person at 112 and the state’s last surviving World War I veteran, had experts shaking their heads over his junk food diet.
“He had terrible bad habits. He had a diet largely of sausages and waffles,” Dr. L. Stephen Coles, founder of the Gerontology Research Group at the University of California, Los Angeles, said Friday.
The 5-foot-7, 140-pound Johnson died of pneumonia Wednesday at his Richmond home in Northern California.
“A lot of people think or imagine that your good habits and bad habits contribute to your longevity,” Coles said. “But we often find it is in the genes rather than lifestyle.”
Johnson, who was blind and living alone until his 110th birthday when a caregiver began helping him, built the Richmond house by hand in 1935. He got around using a walker in recent years.
Johnson was the only living Californian considered a “supercentenarian,” a designation for those ages 110 or older, Coles said. His group is now in the process of validating a Los Angeles candidate who claims to be 112 years old.
Coles participated in an autopsy Thursday that was designed to study Johnson’s health.
“All of his organs were extremely youthful. They could have been the organs of someone who was 50 or 60, not 112. Clearly his genes had some secrets,” Coles said.
“Everything in his body that we looked at was clean as a whistle, except for his lungs with the pneumonia,” Coles said. “He had no heart disease, he had no cancer, no diabetes and no Alzheimer’s.
So much for the experts. Have another waffle.