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Weight loss can be achieved at any age with lifestyle changes

A new study from the University of Warwick has revealed that weight loss is not restricted or limited by age. The researchers found that patients over the age of 60 can lose the same amount of weight as younger people using simple lifestyle changes.

The investigation looked at the capacity for weight loss in adults under the age of 60 compared to adults between the ages of 60 and 78 that were enrolled in the same hospital-based obesity intervention.

The study, which was conducted at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW), showed that lifestyle changes are effective in reducing obesity regardless of age. 

The intervention was focused on lifestyle-based changes tailored to each individual patient, such as dietary changes, psychological support, and the encouragement of physical activity. Most of the 242 patients were morbidly obese at the time of enrollment.

When the results were analyzed, the two groups were statistically equivalent in their achievements, with participants aged 60 years and over reducing their body weight by an average of  7.3 percent compared with a body weight reduction of 6.9 percent in those aged under 60 years. 

According to the experts, there are more than fifty comorbid medical conditions associated with obesity that can be addressed by losing weight, including diabetes, depression, osteoarthritis, and heart complications such as hypertension.

“Weight loss is important at any age, but as we get older we’re more likely to develop the weight-related comorbidities of obesity,” said study lead author Dr. Thomas Barber. “Many of these are similar to the effects of aging, so you could argue that the relevance of weight loss becomes heightened as we get older, and this is something that we should embrace.

Dr. Barber said there are a number of reasons why people may discount weight loss in older people, including an “ageist” perspective that weight-loss is not relevant to senior adults. There are also misconceptions about the reduced ability of older people to lose weight through dietary modification and increased exercise. Dr. Barber noted that many older people may feel that hospital-based obesity services are not for them. 

“Service providers and policymakers should appreciate the importance of weight loss in older people with obesity, for the maintenance of health and wellbeing, and the facilitation of healthy ageing. Furthermore, age per se should not contribute towards clinical decisions regarding the implementation of lifestyle management of older people.”

“Age should be no barrier to lifestyle management of obesity. Rather than putting up barriers to older people accessing weight loss programmes, we should be proactively facilitating that process. To do otherwise would risk further and unnecessary neglect of older people through societal ageist misconceptions.”

The study is published in the journal Clinical Endocrinology.

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

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