Weight Loss for Seniors–It’s Complicated

One of the most common New Year’s resolutions sure to top lists in 2017? Losing weight. And while shedding unwanted pounds is hard at any age, it can be especially challenging for seniors. Still, losing weight and keeping it off is a worthwhile endeavor as doing so can improve both your health and quality of life. Here’s a closer look at the issue of weight loss for older adults, along with several tips aimed at helping seniors reach their weight loss goals.

Why Senior Weight Management Matters

Poor eating habits and inactivity add up weight gain. If left unchecked, this often leads to excessive weight gain and obesity — both of which are linked with a number of health complications. Seniors, in particular, are at risk for clinical consequences, including type 2 diabetes, arthritis, urinary incontinence and even depression, according to an article published in the British Medical Bulletin.

Unfortunately, the problem of obesity among seniors is increasing as the population ages. Not only is this troubling at the individual level, but it also has significant implications for society at large due to the burden it creates for the health care system.

Weight Loss for Seniors

While losing weight is a simple concept in theory — expend more calories than you take in — it is a more complex process in reality. But for seniors, the “battle of the bulge” can be even harder to the natural slowing down of the metabolism. In other words, a 65-year-old might eat the same meal he ate at age 20 and yet burn calories at a slower rate. This can be confusing and frustrating for seniors as they watch the pounds creep up on the scale.

The good news? Age doesn’t have to be an obstacle to weight loss and weight management with a few helpful strategies in place.

Beyond Dieting

The word “diet” has gotten a bad rap lately, and with good reason. Many fad diets work for a short period of time but end up backfiring, with people gaining rather than losing weight in the long run. There are diets, however, which adopt a more lifestyle-centered approach. According to a recent US News and World Report roundup of “Best Diets for Seniors” diets like the DASH, TLC and Mediterranean diets are well-suited for seniors not only because they support weight loss, but also because they can help control common conditions experienced by many older adults, such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

And while cutting back on the calories can be an important part of the weight loss process, cutting back on the right calories may be even more important. As registered dietician and diabetes educator Amy Campbell told US News and World Report, “One concern for older people is getting enough protein. We need more as we age.” The takeaway? It’s not necessarily about following a specific diet, says Campbell, but instead about choosing a “well-rounded diet with extra protein.”

And Don’t Forget Exercise

The role of physical activity cannot be overstated when it comes to weight loss. For sedentary seniors moving toward more active lifestyles, starting small can help prevent injuries while avoiding burnout. Also essential? Choosing a program that you can actually stick with. This means honestly assessing your own physical capabilities and adopting a can-do attitude.

You don’t have to run a marathon to be active in your golden years. In fact, small changes — such as walking 30 minutes a day or taking a low-impact fitness class at your local gym or senior center — can lead to big health rewards.

While weight management may be complex, its solution is basic: Keep it simple. As director of preventive cardiology at the University of Chicago Medical Center Michael Davidson told US News and World Report, the best eating and exercise plans prioritize the question, “What can be a lifelong change instead of just a short-term fix for the patient?” Whether you’ve tried and failed in the past or are setting out on your first weight loss journey, letting this question be your guide may make all the difference in 2017.

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Written By
Amie Clark

Amie has been writing about senior care products and services for the last decade. She is particularly passionate about new technologies that help improve the quality of life for seniors and their families. Seeing her parents and grandparents age made Amie ask herself, “Would this be good enough for my loved ones?” In her spare time, Amie enjoys outdoor adventures and spontaneous road trips. Learn more about Amie here


  1. I’m from Japan but a Filipina. I will be 63 this year and I find it hard to lose weight specially now that I am a retiree. I ‘ve undergone total thyroidectomy because of cancer. It’s been 12 years since I’m taking hormone replacements. I don’t eat pork, meat as always and just a little rice. I do exercise but cannot do strenuous ones because of my knees. I’m really desperate to lose weight not to get slim but to lose some excess kilos.
  2. Thanks for writing this post! weight loss in the older age is a bit more difficult for everyone. in older age, a person can not lift heavyweight and there may be lots of reasons for an older person to lose weight. in this age, proper diet and supplementation with light exercise will only help.
  3. I am 80 yrs.old and weigh 208lbs.I need to loose at least 50lbs.I have thyroid problems,and take bp pills.What would be a good diet for me?
  4. I’m a 66 year old male with limited exercise options. My primary exercise is golf. My history is when I get to fat, is when I will do the Adkins diet for a few months and lose substantial weight. My problem is after I finish dieting, I go right back to eating with having no idea how to maintain my desired weight. Obviously, I know I eat way to much sugar plus I eat way to often. When I shop for groceries I need to know what to buy and what I can eat to keep the weight off. I would love a list of what I should eat and what I should stay away from. I’ve got a general idea of what to eliminate or at least buy groceries that will eliminate what makes me fat so quickly. I don’t know how to maintain the weight I just suffered to lose. I can lose substantial weight fairly easy on the Adkins diet. But when I get to a target weight loss….its a vicious cycle…lose the weight fast but put it back on just as fast. I need a list of foods to eat and a list of foods to stay away from.
    1. Ricky, That is the problem with going on a diet, instead of adopting a new lifestyle, if you chose to go on the Atkins diet to lose weight, then you must stay on the Atkins diet for the rest of your life, do you see how when you go off the Atkins diet you gain weight.. I personally think that the Atkins diet is too restrictive for me and I have a heart condition (electrical) so I see a cardiologist, he reminds me to eat a diet rich in fruits and veggies, lean protein and low in fats staying away or limiting saturated fat, move more, exercise a minimum of 3 days a week, more is better. It’s also about portion size too, also remember moderation. I’m an emotional eater (many people are) so that can make losing and maintaining weight a challenge. Finally words, it’s not about going on a diet, it’s about adopting a healthy lifestyle.
  5. Losing weight is difficult at any age, but can seem overwhelming for seniors. Having a healthy diet will help in general health but also enable us to lose weight. One should eat low calorie vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery and nuts like walnuts, Indian nuts. Do not consume alcohol in any form, including beer and wine. Alcohol not only adds calories, but it inhibits the burning of fat from fat deposits. Diet Nutrition Supplements are an necessary half of any weight loss plan. Supplements help to provide nutrition to body during weight loss. These supplements are easily available in market and one can [url redacted-admin] Shop Online.

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