Elder Intentional Weight Loss Not Harmful

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C., April 7 (UPI) — U.S. researchers say they have refuted the notion intentional weight loss is harmful to seniors.

Researchers at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., found far fewer deaths — half the number — in the group of participants exercising or modifying diet to lose weight, compared to the group not intentionally losing weight.

“It was an unusually strong and surprising finding,” study first author M. Kyla Shea said in a statement. “Our data suggest that people should not be concerned about trying or recommending weight loss to address obesity-related health problems in older adults.”

The study, published online in advance of print in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, not only ruled out risk due to intentional weight loss, but also suggested a mortality benefit to losing the weight.

Shea and colleagues re-analyzed data from a 1990s study of 318 community-dwelling adults age 60 and older with knee arthritis, enrolled in a trial assessing the effects of intentional weight loss on physical function, and also checked to see if the study participants were still living eight years later.

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