Study: Age Not a Barrier to Weight Loss

Recent research has found that older people are able to lose as much weight as younger people.

older woman exercising, yoga

Obese patients over the age of 60 can lose an equivalent amount of weight as younger people using only lifestyle changes, according to a new study from the University of Warwick and University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) NHS Trust. These findings are based on analysis of patient records from a hospital-based obesity service and are reported in the journal Clinical Endocrinology.

Researchers randomly selected 242 patients who attended the WISDEM-based obesity service between 2005 and 2016, and compared two groups (those aged under 60 years and those between 60 and 78) for the weight loss that they achieved during their time within the service. The hospital-based program used only lifestyle changes tailored to each individual patient, focusing on diet, psychological support and encouragement of physical activity. Most of the patients referred to the obesity service were morbidly obese.

For this analysis, all patients had their body weight measured before and after lifestyle interventions coordinated within the service, and the percentage reduction in body weight was calculated across both groups. When compared, the two groups were equivalent statistically, with those older than 60 on average reducing their body weight by 7.3%, compared with a body weight reduction of 6.9% in participants younger than 60. Both groups spent a similar amount of time within the obesity service, on average 33.6 months for the older group, and 41.5 months for the younger group.

The report suggests that age may not be a barrier to weight loss later in life, as has been commonly understood. "Service providers and policymakers should appreciate the importance of weight loss in older people with obesity, for the maintenance of health and well-being, and the facilitation of healthy aging," said lead author Dr. Thomas Barber of Warwick Medical School at the University of Warwick. "Furthermore, age per se should not contribute towards clinical decisions regarding the implementation of lifestyle management of older people."

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