Older adults need support for healthy weight loss in 2018

December 22, 2017 by Alicia Roberts , Wake Forest University
Older adults need support for healthy weight loss in 2018
Credit: Wake Forest University

If you're trying to drop a few pounds in 2018, forget the fancy gym memberships and the home-delivered diets. Researchers at Wake Forest University say seniors whose New Year's resolution is to lose weight succeed with a much cheaper and more accessible solution: classes at community fitness centers such as the YMCA.

The findings are part of a large, randomized controlled clinical trial, Cooperative Lifestyle Intervention Program-II (CLIP-II), which evaluates the effects of - and exercise-induced weight loss on mobility in obese, older adults in a community setting. In this case, it was three YMCA facilities.

Researchers learned that YMCA staff, with minimal training and monitoring, can help overweight seniors lose weight through diet and exercise comparable to state-of-the-art – and expensive – weight-loss management programs.

"The connection the diet and fitness staff built with these was absolutely pivotal to the results that we saw," said Jack Rejeski, Thurman D. Kitchin Professor of Health and Exercise Science at Wake Forest and co-principal investigator for CLIP-II.

Tony Marsh, also a professor of health and exercise science and Rejeski's co-principal investigator, trained the community center staff for the CLIP-II study. He said there are three core reasons why their efforts kept study participants engaged and committed to losing weight:

  1. Staff provided very specific advice on what participants needed to do to make a change.
  2. The study team really listened to participant feedback. "We tried not to push things on people," he said. "It's not a boot camp. The YMCA staff were very empathetic and understanding."
  3. Participants were held accountable every day, through tracking weight, level of activity and ability to move.

Community center also were sure to point out quality-of-life improvements with participants.

"If you know you couldn't pick up your grandchild and now you can, that's a clear demonstration of the impact on your life," Marsh said. "One participant told us that she could start gardening in her sloping back yard because she had built the strength to keep her balance."

CLIP-II studied 249 men and women age 60-79 who were overweight and exercised very little. For 18 months, they followed one of three weight-loss regimens: diet alone; diet plus walking for aerobic exercise; or diet plus resistance (weight) training. Funding came from the National Institutes of Health/National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the National Institutes on Aging.

All three groups lost weight. The groups that combined diet and exercise interventions lost the most: on average, nearly 20 pounds.

Interestingly, the group that combined weight training with diet lost more fat and less muscle mass – keys to maintaining mobility and staving off injury as you age.

And because this study was done in a community setting instead of a lab, the results can be replicated in community fitness centers everywhere – especially at a time of year when weight-loss resolutions abound.

"This is a practical, pragmatic approach to loss that anyone can do with the right guidance," Rejeski said.

Explore further: Lose fat, preserve muscle—weight training beats cardio for older adults

Related Stories

Lose fat, preserve muscle—weight training beats cardio for older adults

November 1, 2017
Weight training or cardio? For older adults trying to slim down, pumping iron might be the way to go.

Weight loss through exercise alone does not protect knees

November 28, 2017
Obese people who lose a substantial amount of weight can significantly slow down the degeneration of their knee cartilage, but only if they lose weight through diet and exercise or diet alone, according to a new MRI study ...

Exercise alone does not lead to weight loss in women—in the medium term

November 23, 2017
Knowing whether or not exercise causes people to lose weight is tricky. When people take up exercise, they often restrict their diet – consciously or unconsciously – and this can mask the effects of the exercise. In our ...

Mindfulness training shows promise for maintaining weight loss

November 23, 2017
Can mindfulness training help overweight people shed pounds and keep them off? McGill University researchers surveyed the growing body of studies investigating that question, and came away encouraged.

The truth about exercise and calorie burn

September 12, 2017
(HealthDay)—When you consider that a hot fudge sundae can top 500 calories, 30 minutes of walking at a slow pace will barely make a dent in undoing the damage.

Calorie reduction + exercise = better muscle function in older adults

August 29, 2017
Improved muscle performance starts with better mitochondrial function. Older adults who are overweight may improve their muscle function with a weight loss program that combines exercise and calorie reduction, according to ...

Recommended for you

Obesity plagues rural America

June 19, 2018
(HealthDay)—Country folk are being hit harder by the U.S. obesity epidemic than city dwellers, two new government studies show.

Binging, purging and fasting more common in overweight, obese young adults

June 12, 2018
Young adults who are overweight or obese are twice as likely as their leaner peers to binge and purge, use laxatives or diuretics, or force themselves to vomit as a means of controlling their weight, according to a new study ...

Study offers new hope for the fight against genetically determined obesity

June 3, 2018
Around 2 to 6 percent of all people with obesity develop the condition in early childhood. Obesity-causal mutations in one of the 'appetite genes' gives them a strong genetic predisposition for developing obesity, also called ...

Abnormal lipid metabolism in fat cells predicts future weight gain and diabetes in women

May 31, 2018
The inefficient breakdown of fats predicts later weight gain and metabolic complications such as type 2 diabetes in women, researchers report May 31 in the journal Cell Metabolism. Low levels of hormone-stimulated lipolysis—a ...

Antidepressant use may contribute to long-term population weight gain

May 24, 2018
Researchers at King's College London have found that patients prescribed any of the 12 most commonly used antidepressants were 21% more likely to experience an episode of gain weight than those not taking the drugs, (after ...

Bid to beat obesity focuses on fat that keeps us warm

May 24, 2018
A new technique to study fat stores in the body could aid efforts to find treatments to tackle obesity.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.