In the past 30 years, the number of aging adults with obesity has doubled. This has had a negative impact on the well-being of seniors. Losing weight in later life is possible, and even a modest weight loss has important health benefits. However, because seniors have special nutritional needs, the right diet is important.
SOME REASONS SENIORS GAIN WEIGHT
Weight gain requires more calories to be taken in than are expended, but that equation doesn’t tell the whole story. There are many factors that contribute to fat storage, and according to the Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, a number of them affect the elderly.
Hormonal changes have a large impact on people in many ways. As people age, they produce less growth hormone and serum testosterone, causing their bodies to store fat more easily. Meanwhile, older adults with a thyroid imbalance may experience leptin resistance, affecting their metabolism and appetite.
Medications can also impact weight. A number of prescription medications, such as steroids and antidepressants, list weight gain as a side effect. Many seniors struggle to get enough sleep, and a lack of sleep has been shown to contribute to weight gain.
Finally, as people age, they often lose some mobility, making it harder for them to participate in aerobic activities like sports, dancing, and walking.
THE RISKS OF WEIGHT GAIN
It’s well known that obesity comes with health risks. It increases the likelihood of developing coronary heart disease, type II diabetes, and many kinds of cancer. But, as the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute points out, the complications don’t end there.
Obese seniors require more assistance for their daily living, and they’re more likely to depend on family members for that care. They suffer from more symptoms of illness, such as pain, wheezing, and fatigue. Depression is also more common. Difficulty with movement hampers a person’s ability to take part in activities such as shopping or attending social events, leaving them more isolated. To top it off, their medical expenses tend to be higher.
HOW CAN SENIORS SAFELY LOSE WEIGHT?
Fortunately, the research suggests that even a modest weight loss of 5 to 10% of body weight can have significant health benefits for seniors. Getting more exercise is a great start because preserving muscle mass is important as one ages. A vital part of this process is choosing an eating plan that will support weight loss while maintaining healthy nutrition.
Seniors require more protein than younger people, but at the same time, they also need fewer calories. A healthy diet plan for seniors reduces excess calories but provides plenty of protein to combat muscle loss. According to US News, here’s how a few of the popular diets stack up for seniors.
7 SENIOR WEIGHT LOSS DIETS TO TRY
WEIGHT WATCHERS: This eating plan offers a simple structure for choosing food. It doesn’t eliminate favorite foods but guides people’s choices to help them work those foods into a healthy overall diet.
DASH AND THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET: These diets emphasize healthy carbs, such as vegetables and whole grains, along with lean meats, beans, and fish. They’re a great choice for diabetes prevention and management, and they encourage eating a variety of healthy foods.
JENNY CRAIG AND NUTRISYSTEM: Prepared meals are a great way to simplify a diet, especially for seniors who struggle to cook healthy food. The drawback is that these diets can get expensive.
PALEO: This eating approach has good basic nutritional principles for seniors. It calls for lots of protein and vegetables. Seniors can experience constipation on a low-carb diet, so that’s something to look out for.
THE ORNISH DIET: The very low-fat nature of this diet makes it a poor choice for seniors. It’s also a complicated eating plan that may be a challenge to follow.
THE BIGGEST LOSER: Many seniors will find this diet overly restrictive and hard to follow.
ATKINS: Very low-carb diets such as this one can be difficult to adhere to. In addition, the Atkins diet requires cutting out so many foods that seniors may feel deprived. The diet can also lead to low blood sugar levels, which can endanger those with diabetes.
Whatever approach to weight loss you choose, it’s important to have caregivers who understand and support your goals. At David York Agency, our caregivers are trained to help seniors achieve their weight loss goals.
DAVID YORK UNDERSTANDS THE IMPORTANCE OF SENIOR WEIGHT LOSS DIETS
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