Addressing Obesity among Aging Patients

As advancements in technology and medical care continue to proliferate and Baby Boomers’ transition to their next decade of life, the population category experiencing the greatest growth is among individuals over 85 years old. Despite improvements to health care, however, everyone experiences a gradual decrease in their physical and mental states as they age, which increases the risk of disease and accidents. Obesity contributes to this risk, and with 30 percent of the population in the United States over the age of 65 having obesity. Addressing the needs of this group will continue to be a challenge.

Obesity increases not only the risk for illness and death, but also quality of life. Even among those who are metabolically healthy, obesity accelerates the progress of other areas of decline. It increases the likelihood of disability and functional impairment which is seen most frequently in the deterioration of activities of daily living. This can result in a patient losing the ability to administer self-care. It also increases the likelihood of a loss of independence — the greatest fear related to aging held by seniors. Weight loss through lifestyle modification, exercise and caloric restriction helps with physical conditions and also reduces symptoms of depression.

The Effect of a Very Low Calorie Diet in Older Adults

Because age and weight contribute to multiple health risks, weight loss must be closely monitored. For older adults especially, physical activity is critical to minimize further reduction to lean muscle mass or bone mineral density. Programs adapted to individual needs and capabilities that combine a reduced calorie diet, aerobic exercise for weight loss and strength training exercises to minimize muscle and bone loss muscle are most effective. Specifically, there is strong support for following a program that features a Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD). Consider the following research:

A weight loss program that combines physical activity with a VLCD offers significant medical benefits to older patients with obesity. This can lead to an improved metabolic profile, enhanced physical and mental well-being, and greater independence. Clearly, it is vital to increase awareness of issues that affect older adults, including a discussion on weight management options like New Direction®.

Sources:

1.Very Low Calorie Diets for Weight Loss in Obese Older Adults – A Randomized Trial

2. Obesity in Older Adults: Effect of Degree of Weight Loss on Cardiovascular Markers and Medications

3.Effects of Weight Loss During a Very Low Carbohydrate Diet on Specific Adipose Tissue Depots and Insulin Sensitivity in Older Adults with Obesity: A Randomized Clinical Trial

*Robard Corporation, Addressing Obesity among Aging Patients, By Andrea M. Pampaloni, Ph.D. www.robard.com, 08/16/2021

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