Aging Doesn’t Make Losing Weight Harder

There’s good news for those of us who find the idea of attempting to lose weight daunting. Many of us believe that losing weight becomes more difficult as we age. But a new study has found that it isn’t true. If you’ve felt like it’s an impossible task because you’re not as young as you used to be, you can wipe that worry off your list!

The study split the participants in a weight loss program in a hospital into two groups: over and under the age of 60. The program focused on diet, mental support and exercise. Over the course of the study, both groups of people saw equivalent positive results. When the doctors measured both lost pounds and BMI, they saw no significant difference between the two groups! The researchers thought that their results showed what happened on an even playing field. It can be harder for older people to access the support people got in the program than it is for younger people. But physically, there is no difference.

Weight loss is important at any age, but as we get older we’re more likely to develop the weight-related co-morbidities of obesity,” said Dr. Thomas Barber of Warwick Medical School at the Univ. of Warwick. Those co-morbidities are other medical problems that can contribute to weight gain, like illnesses that cause a more sedentary lifestyle.

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,” he said. “There are a number of reasons why people may discount weight loss in older people. These include an ‘ageist’ perspective that weight-loss is not relevant to older people and misconceptions of reduced ability of older people to lose weight through dietary modification and increased exercise. 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 aging.”

Being a healthy weight is essential at any age, whether or not you’re obese. It can help you avoid other illnesses and stay active. You can enjoy your life more when you are more active. It can also help promote healthy blood sugar levels. This study shows it really is never “too late.” It’s not a case of your body slowing down but instead perception.

Believe in yourself. And stand up for yourself. This ageist belief that older people can’t lose weight is often believed by doctors as well. It’s so ingrained into our culture that they might not advocate for you. If you are interested in joining programs that might be covered by your insurance, talk to your doctor, bring it up even if they don’t! You often have to be your own advocate. This study was looking at a program run through a hospital. Weight loss is difficult when you don’t have as much support. Depending on your health needs, you may be able to join a similar program. And, there are other options, like support groups or apps, that can add structure and keep you on a path!

The bottom line is, if you are older and want to lose weight, don’t feel like there is no hope. This study shows that there isn’t a difference in your physical ability to lose weight as you age. Believe in yourself, get support and make a plan today!

Banner image: Siora Photography via Unsplash
December 14, 2020
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