29th Jun, 2022

Age is no barrier to successful weight loss, reveals new Warwick University-led study

Editorial Correspondent 23rd Nov, 2020 Updated: 23rd Nov, 2020

AGE is no barrier to losing weight, a new University of Warwick-led study reveals.

Obese patients over 60 can lose the same amount of weight as younger people using only lifestyle changes concluded the research conducted at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) as reported in the Clinical Endocrinology journal.

This retrospective study was based on the analysis of patient records from a hospital-based obesity service at the Warwickshire Institute for the Study of Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism (WISDEM) located at UHCW.

Researchers randomly selected 242 patients who attended the WISDEM-based obesity service between 2005 and 2016, and compared two groups (those under 60 years and those between 60 and 78 years) for the weight loss that they achieved during their time within the service.

All patients had their body weight measured both before and after undertaking lifestyle changes and coordinated within the hospital-based obesity service. Lifestyle-based changes were tailored to each individual patient, focusing on dietary changes, psychological support and encouragement of physical activity.

When compared, the two groups were the same statistically, with those aged 60 years and over on average reducing their body weight by 7.3%, compared to 6.9% in those under 60 years. Both groups spent a similar amount of time within the obesity service, on average 33 months for those 60 and above, and 41 months for those under-60.

Most of the patients referred to the obesity service were morbidly obese with BMIs typically over 40Kgm-2.

The researchers hope their findings, will help to dispel myths about the potential benefits of older people trying to reduce their weight.

Lead author Dr Thomas Barber, of Warwick Medical School, said: “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.”

More than 50 illnesses or diseases resulting from obesity can be lessened through losing weight, including diabetes, psychiatric conditions such as depression and anxiety, and osteoarthritis.

Study link: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cen.14354

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