Research Explores Obesity and Weight Loss in Older People
The conventional wisdom holds that weight gain is often an inevitable consequence of the aging process. On average, men and women past childbearing age gain a pound a year. Today, the obesity epidemic that has impacted the rest of the population has also begun to effect the elderly population.
Carrying excess weight can diminish health and well-being no matter what age you are, but obesity often has dire health consequences for older men and women. Virtually every disease and health problem that is common in the older population can be complicated by obesity. In an age group that often faces separate difficulties with mobility and self-care, the added challenge of being overweight can be daunting.
In recent years, researchers the world over have begun to concentrate their efforts on investigating causes, consequences, and possible solutions for the obesity epidemic. This week, we?ll focus on recent research findings that explore the issue of obesity and weight loss in older people.
Being Moderately Overweight Does Not Detract Significantly from Life Span
It is well-known that obesity can complicate the health challenges and lifestyle issues facing older men and women. It has also long been assumed that obesity in elderly people was likely linked to earlier death.
However, the results of a recent study indicate that this long-held assumption may not be founded in scientific reality. According to research conducted by a scientific team at the Kyushu Dental College in Kitakyushu City, Japan, moderately overweight men and women did not have shorter life spans than their thinner counterparts.
Although the link between obesity and premature death from heart disease was confirmed, the research team found that overweight people did not die as a result of many other common geriatric infirmities at a rate greater than their thinner counterparts. Indeed, the results gathered by the team that moderately overweight individuals often experienced a measure of protection against illnesses, accidents, and injuries common in old age.
The researchers concluded that while avoiding morbid obesity is important throughout the entire lifespan, it may be beneficial for older people to avoid letting their weight fall into the low-normal range. They suggest further research to help develop more specific weight recommendations for older men and women.
Overweight Elderly May Benefit From Disease Protection
Confirming and extending the findings of the Japanese researchers, a team of investigators in China found that moderately overweight Chinese elders often enjoyed a measure of protection from infections diseases in comparison to their thinner counterparts. Specifically, researchers working at the Tuberculosis and Chest Service in Hong Kong found that overweight elders in China had much less risk of contracting tuberculosis than did older men and women whose weight was classified as normal or low-normal.
The study participants whose BMIs exceeded 25 (the standard designation of overweight) had as much as 30% less chance of contracting tuberculosis, according to the researchers? analyses. Although maintaining a healthy body weight is an important aspect of maintaining optimal health in later life, the implications of being moderately overweight may be different in parts of the world plagued by higher risk of infections diseases.
Most Diets are Safe For Older Men and Women
Many elderly individuals have been advised to lose weight in order to experience the health gains associated with a normal weight range. However, some may concerned that the nutritional rigors of popular weight loss plans may not be conducive to their well-being.
While these concerns are valid, they may have been proven unfounded by the findings of a recent study conducted by researchers at the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. According to the results of the study, a traditional restricted-calorie weight loss diet has no significant negative effects on elderly individuals seeking to lose weight.
One of the most common concerns is the possibility that restricted-calorie diets will result in the loss of muscle mass, which can have grave consequences for mobility and independence in the elderly. However, the Wake Forest team found that muscle mass loss was minimal or negligible in elderly dieters.
Although most elderly dieters in the study lost relatively little weight, even five or ten pounds can result in a drastic improvement in overall health and quality of life. In the final analysis of the data, the researchers recommended restricted-calorie diets as a beneficial health initiative for older men and women.
If you are seeking to lose weight, consult with your physician before undertaking a diet regimen. Check back each week for more breaking diet news!
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