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Overweight, Obesity, Weight Management, and the Older Adult

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Body Mass Indexes (BMIs) that fall in the overweight and obese category have been increasing over the past few decades to the point that overweight and obesity is reaching epidemic numbers worldwide. Adults aged 60 and over account for about one-third of the obese population.

What is a healthy weight?

The Body Mass Index (BMI) is used to classify weights into healthy, overweight, and obese categories. The BMI is calculated using your height and weight. The measurements are entered into a formula to obtain the BMI. A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is healthy, a BMI of 25.0 to 29.9 is considered overweight and greater than 30 is obese. This is a link to check your BMI.

Why is it important to achieve a healthy weight if one is in the overweight or obese category?

With a higher BMI, there are consequences to your overall health. Medical conditions associated with overweight or obesity include high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, decreased mobility, kidney disease, increased joint pain, increased risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, depression, sleep apnea, some cancers and more. Obesity is more than just a condition with increased health risk. It is now recognized by the American Medical Association (AMA) as a disease. Another concern associated with overweight and obesity are the increased healthcare costs associated with the disease.

What is the cause of overweight and obesity?

The causes of overweight and obesity are many. Food choices and a sedentary lifestyle contribute to overweight and obesity. However, there are other factors that contribute to overweight and obesity including genetics, psychological, cultural, and environmental influences. Because overweight and obesity are complex conditions, the treatment is also complex.

What are the benefits of losing weight?

Losing just 5% to 10% of your weight can result in lower blood pressure, better sleeping, more energy, a better mindset to name a few benefits. A weight loss of 10 pounds, takes 40 pounds of pressure off your knees. Just losing 10 pounds can be a huge boost to your health. If you want others to see that you have lost weight, you may need to lose about 15 to 20 pounds. Of course, seeing weight loss may depend on where you start on your journey.

What can you do to start a journey toward a healthier weight?

While no one wants to fall into the category of overweight or obese, it is important to know your BMI and to recognize there are health consequences that are associated with a higher BMI. Once you know where you stand in terms of your weight, progress toward attaining a healthy weight can be developed. Generally, a good place to start is with behavioral changes such as eating healthier and increasing physical activity. You should also consider if you are an emotional eater or if you eat out of boredom. Discuss the best way to change your eating habits and the type of physical activity that is best for you with your healthcare provider.

To recognize your weight as normal, overweight or obese gives one the power to change it, if needed. The best weight is not always in the normal BMI category. Your best weight can be determined by discussion with your healthcare provider.

How do you implement better choices?

It’s not always as simple as just eating less and moving more. Often, a bit of guidance in both categories is helpful. Here are two links to CDC recommended ways to eat healthier:

Below are links for programs to move more:

Silver Sneakers is another program geared toward older adults with a variety of programs including on-line classes to get you moving and some healthy eating tips as well.  Here are links for Silver Sneakers:

Losing weight is not hard, keeping the weight off is a challenge. A good strategy to address the challenge is finding an accountability partner. Your accountability partner is your supporter on your journey to an optimal weight and can help you keep the weight off. Your accountability partner can be anyone that will keep you on track to reach your goal. You will most likely will help your accountability partner to adopt some healthier habits as well.

Enjoy your journey to healthier living.

Janice James, RN, MS

Clinical Research Associate