Dieting for the Elderly can be Good
(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Older women who try to lose weight could face frailty, a decline in physical function or even death. So what should these women do if they are overweight?
Two new studies from Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, reveal older women are actually better off trying to lose weight, even if they gain some of it back. Both projects are part of the Diet, Exercise and Metabolism in Older Women (DEMO) study.
Weight loss causes both muscle and fat loss. Because people naturally lose muscle as they age, scientists wanted to know whether it was safe for older adults to add to this effect by dieting.
"Weight loss without exercise is not widely advocated for older adults because of the potential to lose muscle and reduce physical function," lead author Jamehl Demons, M.D., Wake Forest University, was quoted as saying.
Demons' study looked at 23 obese, postmenopausal, sedentary women. For five months, their meals and snacks consisted of 400 fewer calories than they needed to maintain their weight.
The women lost an average of 25 pounds -- about 35 percent of the total loss was muscle. Results show despite the large amount of muscle loss, participants' strength and walking speed did not change, and their aerobic fitness improved. The findings suggest weight loss through dieting should not lead to increased disability.
The other study looked at body composition when the weight was regained. Participants lost an average of 25 pounds -- about 32 percent muscle and 68 percent fat. They regained an average of 11 pounds -- about 27 percent muscle and 73 percent fat.
"It looks like they are better off than if they had never tried to lose weight," lead author Mary F. Lyles, M.D., Wake Forest University, was quoted as saying.
This article was reported by Ivanhoe.com, which offers Medical Alerts by e-mail every day of the week. To subscribe, click on: http://www.ivanhoe.com/newsalert/.
SOURCE: Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Geriatrics Society in Seattle, Washington, May 2-6, 2007