It’s long been believed that aging makes losing weight more difficult. As you leave your 20s and 30s behind, your metabolism slows down. Your body’s balance of lean tissue and fat can change. A 2013 review noted that it’s normal to gain between one to two pounds per year as you get older. Aging can even bring increased risk for obesity and weight-related health concerns.
With all of these changes, losing weight becomes challenging – or so it seemed. A new research study, however, is turning this conventional wisdom upside down. Your age may not play as much of a role in your ability to lose weight as you thought.
Weight loss can be accomplished at any age
A research study published in Clinical Endocrinology is changing assumptions about weight loss and age. In this study, researchers observed 242 individuals divided into two groups: under 60 years old and between 60 and 78 years old. All of the participants were diagnosed with morbid obesity and BMIs of 40 or higher.
Both groups had their individual body weights monitored as they participated in weight loss lifestyle interventions. As they worked to manage their weight with dietary changes and exercise, medical experts also offered customized programs and support.
Over the course of 33 to 41 months, the study’s participants all lost weight. But what surprised researchers was the fact that both age groups lost nearly the same percentage of weight.
When the results were tallied, the two groups were almost equivalent in their weight loss. The age 60 and under group lost 6.9 percent of their body weight on average; the 60-plus age group lost 7.3 percent on average. Ultimately, weight loss happened pretty evenly across the board, with participants all roughly experiencing the same level of success when it came to the amount of weight lost.
One group did have a bit more success in one particular area, however: older participants in the 60 to 78 age group actually spent less time in the weight loss program, shedding pounds faster than their younger counterparts.
Age is not a barrier to weight loss
The findings of this research study show that age doesn’t actually have to make weight loss more challenging. In fact, researchers are suggesting that the real challenge may be bias towards older individuals – not physical changes due to aging.
Older individuals may face additional hurdles when they work to lose weight, like myths about weight loss programs’ effectiveness for older adults and “ageist” perception that weight loss is only of interest to younger people. Age can also dissuade people from joining weight loss programs that could work well for them simply because they’re targeted towards younger participants.
But maintaining a healthy weight is even more important as you get older. Carrying extra weight, or being diagnosed as obese, can put you at risk for a wealth of dangerous health conditions. Depression, diabetes, osteoarthritis and cardiovascular disease all become more likely as you reach age 60 and beyond.
Keep the results of the latest research in mind if you’re working towards a healthy weight. No matter your age, success is possible. With healthy eating habits and regular exercise, you can achieve your weight loss goals without any added challenges.
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