Obesity in the elderly – a complicated and neglected issue
Obesity is not only a common problem among children and the adult population. But it is a problem that extends even to an older age. According to a study published in the American Nurses Association. The proportion of obese adults has doubled during the past 30 years. Yet another data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Confirms that about one-third of adults, aged 65 years and above, living in the USA, were obese. What’s more worrying, are the statistics, given by the American Journal of Public Health. Which state that, obesity accounts for about 18% of death in adults aged 40 – 85 years. All these statistics point towards a single issue. That obesity is increasing at an alarming rate, and we need to do something fast to address the issue.
The story of obesity in the elderly population
With advancing age, our body undergoes many changes. Causing our elderly loved ones to put on some extra weight around the waist region. The increasing of obesity in the later years of life corresponds to changes in the body one undergoes. There are many uncontrollable factors attributing to weight gain as we age. This further means, that as we age, there is an increase in the fat mass, with a simultaneous decrease in the lean and the bone mass.
With advancing age, the problem of calories taken in and the calories expended do not seem to work as much. According to, Dr. Lawrence Cheskin, who is the Director of the John Hopkins Weight Management Center and associate professor of Health Behavior and Society at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. As small as 50 calories a day can cause our elderly to increase weight.
Even if your loved one eat the same amount of food, as they did years ago. It would still add up to their weight, owing to slowed down metabolism and little physical activity.
Obesity and the burden of diseases
Being overweight or obese puts our elderly at an increased risk of developing many disease conditions. Such as:
- Type 2 diabetes mellitus
- Heart disease
- Metabolic syndrome
- Urinary incontinence
In spite of all these health issues in our elderly. Obesity still remains an underrated problem in this population.
In addition to the above-mentioned disease conditions, obese elderly are more likely to suffer from depression. Furthermore, they are also extremely susceptible to suffer from the symptoms of depression. Which include feelings of worthlessness, sadness, fatigue, and hopelessness. Obese individuals are also said to develop a negative attitude as compared to obese individuals of other age groups.
The incidence of obesity is on the rise and is to become a bigger problem by the year 2030. Little is being done to tackle the problem effectively. Even though the risks associated with the condition are on the higher side. Keeping in mind the harmful effects of obesity in old age. Here are certain tips for our elderly loved ones to help them lose weight and stay fit.
- Exercise: This is undoubtedly one of the greatest ways to lose weight. However, at old age, it is certainly not possible to exercise vigorously. It is still recommended that our loved ones along with a health care practitioner practice some free hand exercises. That would help build muscle mass and strengthen their bones.
- Diet: This is yet another major culprit and can cause large weight gains. It is, therefore, necessary that we keep a close check on what all goes inside our food plate. Remember, that with advancing age, the metabolism takes a back seat, and is not as efficient as before. Therefore, whatever we eat can cause us to gain weight. Thus, it is necessary that you work with your dietitian on the various foods that your elderly can eat. You need to opt for a diet, that is low in fat, and high in protein.
- Walking: This is perhaps one of the best ways to stay fit and is also great for beginners who want to lose weight. Experts say that walking is as effective as a workout and is also pretty gentle on the joints.
- Physical therapy: This is often recommended for obese elderly. And is also found to be a very effective method for losing weight. Physical therapy happens with the help of a professional physical trainer. That helps the elderly carry out targeted exercises. Which not only aid weight loss but also helps strengthen the muscles and bones.
Prevention of obesity
Preventing obesity and losing weight during the adult years is the best one can do to stay healthy and prevent diseases in the old age. Exercising regularly and adhering to a healthy diet, can go a long way in keeping the weight under check.
A takeaway note for our elderly loved ones
Fighting obesity at this age is certainly not easy; we understand. However, it is still necessary for you, so that you can age in a healthy manner and enjoy your life. Dealing with obesity is all about keeping the deadly diseases at bay so that you can enjoy your life with your partner and family. The above-mentioned tips would certainly help you and your partner, stay fit and live a disease free life. Also, check out this post on overeating.