Diet and Weight Loss in Older Adults

Are you obese and over 65? Obesity is becoming more and more common in older age groups and can cause or contribute to a variety of unwelcome conditions:

  • Higher levels of inflammation throughout the body
  • Slower and less efficient muscle repair
  • Diminished strength per pound of weight
  • Mobility limitations
  • Slower walking and moving
  • More difficulty with stairs


All of these problems can make life more difficult. In addition, obese older adults are more likely to be frail, and frailty carries its own set of challenges, including;

  • Exhaustion
  • Weakness, typically measured in grip strength
  • Slow walking
  • Low physical activity
  • Higher likelihood of falling, becoming disabled or being hospitalized
  • Unintentional weight loss

It’s intuitive to associate frailty with thinness, and even doctors have been slow to understand that people of all weights can be frail. In fact, recent studies show that being obese can actually make frailty worse.

Losing weight when you’re older

The good news is that targeted, intentional weight loss can help alleviate symptoms of both frailty and obesity. This means that getting stronger and healthier can help you live longer and raise your quality of life throughout your lifetime. When choosing the best diet as you reach your 60s and older, keep in mind:

  • The way food tastes and smells changes as you age. If your favorites do not appeal to you the way they did when you were younger, try new foods! This can be an exciting adventure.
  • Older adults have lower levels of the hormones that trigger hunger and higher levels of those associated with fullness. So you may feel full after smaller portions. Taking cues from what your body is telling you can help you to lose weight.
  • To maintain muscle mass when losing weight, older adults need more protein than younger people. Enjoy eggs and lean meat!

No matter what your age, exercise can help with weight loss. Read more information here. Older adults can play some sports, join a gym or walk with friends. If you aren’t already exercising, a physical therapist can help you find ways to move your body that you can enjoy without risking injury. Your exercise plan will likely include:

Small changes

Even a 5-10% weight loss can mean significant changes for your health, longevity and happiness. Get a doctor’s help in designing a diet plan for older adults, and then work with a physical therapist to develop an exercise regimen that is safe and fun. It takes focus and a bit of effort, but losing weight will pay off in huge dividends!

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