Obesity can put a person in a much higher risk category for physical health problems, particularly those related to proper cardiovascular functioning. Heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and diabetes are all more prominent in individuals with body mass indexes that exceed the safe range. No one is immune from becoming overweight. In a society where fast food chains and sedentary activities are the norm for many, there is little wonder as to why so many children and adults have weight problems.
While it is problematic on many fronts for those of all ages, the elderly tend to suffer more severe consequences from the condition. Their bodies are already in a delicate state; excess weight in no way helps brittle bones. The stress put on aching joints resulting from osteoarthritis and other afflictions that affect older adults in high numbers is compounded when supporting a heavyset frame.
Elderly Obesity Rates on the Rise
A recent study conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that of individuals ages 60-69, nearly 40% of them had a BMI over 30. These statistics are perhaps more startling when one takes into the account the fact that a body mass index beyond 25 puts one into the overweight category.
There are more older adults living today than ever before, but similarly, this cohort has seen a significant rise in obesity rates. To give you an idea of how dramatic the shift has been, note that 20 years ago that the number of obese individuals over the age of 65 was half the figure it is today. Unless these people make positive changes with regard to their diet, nutrition, and health, we will likely see a continuance of this negative, upward trend. Interestingly enough, the prevalence of elderly obesity is higher in men than it is in women.
What Causes Senior Obesity, and How Can it Be Prevented?
Daily, physical activity is harder to accomplish when faced with health conditions that hinder one’s mobility. When combined with bad diet choices, the answer is clear. Since elderly obesity complicates existing health problems, the need to keep the weight off is dire.
The natural decrease in a person’s metabolic rate is indeed one reason why it is difficult for the elderly to maintain healthy weight levels, but it is not the only one. A reduction in muscle mass leads to the subsequent rise in fat mass. While these bodily changes are a fact of aging, it’s not necessarily an excuse for senior obesity. With proper nutrition and regular exercise, obesity can be prevented in the majority of cases.
Modifying your loved one’s diet to make it more in line with their nutritional requirements is a good start, as is making sure they partake in some form of physical exercise a few times per week. Swimming, yoga, and other light cardio activities are easier for older people to perform and have marked health benefits. Keeping current on prescribed medications and getting adequate sleep each night is also necessary.
With a little patience, care, and get-up-and-go, you can help your loved one conquer the fight against geriatric obesity and enjoy a greater quality of life as they live longer.
What do you do to help your loved one become more active? Tell us in the comments below.