How To Effectively Help With Obesity In Our Loved Ones


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What is obesity?

Obesity is a medical condition characterized by excessive accumulation of body fat to the extent that it may harm health. It is generally defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher. BMI is calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by the square of their height in meters. Obesity can increase the risk of various health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, and certain types of cancer. It can also lead to physical limitations, social stigmatization, and psychological distress. It is a complex condition with multiple contributing factors, including genetics, lifestyle choices, and environmental factors.

Obesity in older people – a complicated and neglected issue


It is a complex issue in older people is a complex and often overlooked issue requiring attention. Although obesity is a concern across all age groups, it can be particularly challenging for older adults due to the changes that occur with aging. For example, metabolism naturally slows down with age, making it more difficult for older adults to lose weight. In addition, many older adults may have chronic health conditions that make it harder to engage in physical activity, which is crucial for maintaining a healthy weight.

Furthermore, societal and cultural attitudes often contribute to the neglect of obesity in older people. For example, there may be assumptions that weight gain is a natural part of aging or that addressing health concerns in older adults is less critical than in younger people.



However, the risks associated with obesity are just as natural for older adults as for any other age group. They can significantly impact the quality of life and overall health. Therefore, it is essential to address obesity in older adults through a multifaceted approach that includes nutrition, physical activity, other lifestyle factors, and any underlying health conditions contributing to weight gain.

Overall, it is essential to recognize the complexity and unique challenges associated with obesity in older people and to work towards addressing this issue through appropriate interventions and support.



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 by 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. It confirms that about one-third of adults aged 65 and above living in the USA were obese.
What’s more worrying is the American Journal of Public Health statistics. Which state that obesity accounts for about 18% of death in adults aged 40 – 85 years. All these statistics point towards a single issue. Obesity is increasing alarmingly, and we must do something fast to address the issue.

The story of obesity in the elderly population


With advancing age, our body undergoes many changes. We are causing our elderly loved ones to put extra weight around the waist region. The increase in 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 fat mass, with a simultaneous decrease in lean and bone mass.
With advancing age, the problem of calories taken in and expended calories does not seem to work as much, according to Dr. Lawrence Cheskin, 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 eats the same amount of food as they did years ago, it would still add to their weight, owing to slowed 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 diseases.  Obesity can be particularly harmful in the elderly because it can increase the risk of many health problems that are already more common in older adults. Some of the potential risks and complications associated with obesity in older people include:
  1. Cardiovascular disease: Obesity can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, already leading causes of death in older adults.
  2. Diabetes: Obesity is a significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes, which is more common in older adults.
  3. Joint problems: Obesity can put extra stress on the joints, leading to arthritis and other common issues that make it difficult to move and carry out everyday activities.
  4. Respiratory problems: Obesity can lead to sleep apnea, which is more common in older adults and can lead to breathing problems and other complications.
  5. Increased risk of falls: Obesity can affect balance and mobility, increasing the risk of falls and related injuries.
  6. Decreased quality of life: Obesity can also hurt mental health, self-esteem, and quality of life, which is especially important for older adults who may already be dealing with age-related challenges.
Despite all these health issues in our elderly. Obesity remains an underrated problem in this population. In addition to the disease mentioned above, obese elderly are more likely to suffer from depression. Furthermore, they are also highly susceptible to suffering from the symptoms of depression, which include feelings of worthlessness, sadness, fatigue, and hopelessness. Obese individuals are also said to develop a negative attitude compared to obese individuals of other age groups.

Combating obesity


The incidence of obesity is on the rise and will become a bigger problem by 2030. Unfortunately, little is being done to tackle the problem effectively, even though the risks associated with the condition are higher. They are keeping in mind the harmful effects of obesity in old age. Here are tips for our elderly loved ones to help them lose weight and stay fit.
  • Exercise is undoubtedly one of the most significant ways to lose weight. However, it is indeed impossible to exercise vigorously in old age. It is still recommended that our loved ones, and a health care practitioner, practice free hand exercises. That would help build muscle mass and strengthen their bones.
  • Diet: This is another primary culprit and can cause weight gain. Therefore, we must closely check what goes inside our food plates. Remember that the metabolism takes a back seat with advancing age and is less efficient than before. Therefore, whatever we eat can cause us to gain weight. Thus, it would be best to work with your dietitian on the foods your elderly can eat. Again, opting for a diet low in fat and protein would be best.
  • Walking is perhaps one of the best ways to stay fit and is also great for beginners who want to lose weight. Experts say walking is as effective as a workout and is 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 older people carry out targeted exercises. Which not only aids weight loss but also helps strengthen the muscles and bones.

Prevention of obesity


Preventing obesity in older people involves a multifaceted approach that addresses lifestyle factors, underlying health conditions, and other contributing factors. Here are some strategies that can help prevent obesity in older people:

  1. Balanced diet: A balanced diet rich in whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein can help prevent weight gain and promote overall health.
  2. Portion control: Older adults may not need as many calories as they did when they were younger, and portion control can help prevent overeating.
  3. Regular physical activity: Regular physical activity, such as walking, swimming, or yoga, can help maintain muscle mass, improve balance and mobility, and prevent weight gain.
  4. Address underlying health conditions: Some health conditions, such as thyroid disorders or certain medications, can contribute to weight gain, and it is essential to address these underlying factors to prevent obesity.
  5. Social support: Social support from family, friends, or support groups can help older adults maintain healthy habits and prevent obesity.
  6. Regular check-ups: Regular check-ups with a healthcare provider can help identify any health concerns contributing to weight gain and develop a plan to address them.
  7. Mental health: Addressing mental health concerns such as depression, anxiety, or stress can also help prevent obesity in older adults.

Overall, a holistic approach that addresses multiple factors is critical to preventing obesity in older people. Working with a healthcare provider to develop a personalized plan that considers individual health concerns and needs is essential.

How can caregivers help their loved ones with obesity?

If you are a caregiver for a loved one with obesity, there are several ways you can help support their health and well-being. First, providing emotional support and encouragement is important, as weight management can be challenging and sometimes sensitive. This includes offering positive reinforcement for healthy behaviors, such as eating nutritious foods or engaging in physical activity. Additionally, caregivers can assist with meal planning and preparation to ensure their loved ones can access healthy and balanced meals. Encouraging regular physical activity, such as taking walks or engaging in gentle exercise, can also be beneficial. It is also essential to work with a healthcare provider to develop a personalized plan for weight management and address any underlying health concerns contributing to obesity. Finally, caregivers can provide social support and companionship to help their loved one stay motivated and engaged in healthy behaviors.

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Obesity is a complex issue with significant health consequences, particularly for older adults. Prevention of obesity in older people requires a holistic approach that addresses lifestyle factors, underlying health conditions, and social and emotional support. Strategies such as a balanced diet, regular physical activity, portion control, and addressing underlying health conditions can help prevent weight gain and promote overall health. Caregivers can also play a vital role in supporting their loved ones with obesity by providing emotional support, meal planning and preparation, encouraging physical activity, and working with healthcare providers to develop personalized weight management plans. Overall, preventing obesity in older people is an important goal that can help improve overall health and quality of life.

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