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Weight management tips for older adults

Written by Halah Flynn

Obesity is a high-risk health issue in the United States and is associated with intensifying the impacts of chronic disease in old age. And, more than three in ten older adults are obese. Despite the unique implications of the obesity paradox, it’s important for older adults to actively manage their weight. Below are good practices to follow. The best strategy may be to start by talking to a health care practitioner.

The CDC reports that losing 5-10 percent of body weight can have benefits for individuals who have been prescribed weight loss. Blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar levels are likely to improve even for individuals who are still categorized as obese or overweight by a health care professional.

Understand types of weight gain

  • Obesity is excess accumulation of body fat, either just below the skin or around organs. Healthy eating habits and regular physical activity can limit the excess fat, but obesity is often rooted in more complicated, chronic conditions like diabetes or physical impairment.
  • As adults retire from their jobs or become less mobile, they use their muscles less frequently, which leads to sarcopenic obesity. Sarcopenic obesity is common in older adults; muscle loss contributes to fat retention. Staying active, even minimally, can help mitigate this.

Assess your weight at home

  • Calculate your body mass index: BMI is the most commonly known method of determining body composition. To calculate, divide your height by the square of your weight using this calculator from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. It helps to screen for weight categories that indicate high-risk circumstances.
  • Measure your waistline: This method may be more valuable than calculating BMI because it can yield a more accurate illustration of body composition. This is specific to older adults because the BMI often overestimates body fat as aging results in loss of height.

Talk to a doctor or healthcare provider

Find yourself a health care buddy

Finally, ask a caregiver, family nurse practitioner or doctor if you suspect that you or a loved one needs help with addressing obesity risks. What works for one individual might not be right for another, so it’s important for adults to establish measures that enable best practices for their specific needs.

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1 Comment

  • The paradox about possible advantages of more weight being associated with a healthier outcome may well be explained by better underlying health, healthier life style in terms of diet, exercise,and environmental factors.

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