The Importance of a Healthy Weight for Older Adults

A quick search on weight will result in thousands upon thousands of articles focused on the desire to lose weight. Headlines such as, “Get your summer body,” and “Resolve to lose ten pounds this year” are certainly attention-grabbing, however, they may also miss the mark for many senior adults. A healthy weight is important for the prevention of health issues that are common to older adults such as diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, cancer, decreased immunity, and even mental health. A healthy weight management approach is essential for senior adults. Find your ideal weight goals by learning first what a healthy weight is for someone of your age and height.

Note: Each individual should follow the advice of their medical professionals or doctors and speak with them before making changes to diet, exercise, or supplements. This post is for informational use only and should not be considered medical advice. 

Healthy Weight for Seniors | Radiant Senior Living Blog

Health Concerns for Underweight Seniors

While weight loss may be the first thing most people are thinking about for healthy weight goals, for some it is essential to gain weight to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Being below a healthy weight may indicate poor nutrition or depression.

Health issues that may occur in underweight seniors:

  • Vitamin deficiencies and/or anemia – Malnutrition can cause a variety of issues such as fatigue or insomnia, teeth or bone issues, and more.
  • Decreased immunity – Studies suggest that there is an increased risk of infection for underweight adults. They may be unable to fight colds or the flu and catch them more easily. It can also make it more difficult to recover from surgeries.
  • Osteoporosis – Deficiencies in Vitamin D and calcium can lead to loss of bone mass and Osteoporosis, a disease that causes the increase of bone fragility and risk of fracture.

Health Concerns for Overweight Seniors

Obesity is incredibly prevalent in older populations of the United States with over one-third of older adults weighing in as obese. The health concerns for overweight and obese seniors are also some of the leading causes of death today.

Health issues that may occur in overweight or obese seniors:

  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Gallstones
  • Hypertension
  • Heart Disease

Finding Your Healthy Weight Recommendation

One way that doctors measure the ideal weight for a person is by using the Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI is one reliable way to indicate body fat and is used to gauge whether a person is underweight, at an appropriate weight, or overweight. It’s a good idea, at any age, to talk about your BMI with your doctor to make sure you understand your numbers and set healthy goals. To find out your BMI, divide your weight in pounds by the square of your height in inches, multiplied by 703.

Calculate Your BMI with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute BMI Calculator.

BMI RANGE:

  • 18.5 indicates being underweight
  • 18.5 to 24.9 is an appropriate weight
  • 25 and 29.9 indicates being overweight
  • 30 and above is considered obese

While widely used, the BMI scale has also been criticized for not accounting for age or other factors. The BMI scale may be too restrictive overall for older adults. Research has suggested that adults over 65 near the higher end of the healthy range of BMI are actually at a lower risk for weight-related health problems than those at the lower-end of that range. Therefore, to maintain an ideal weight, there are more numbers to think about including daily caloric intake.

 

Healthy Weight for Seniors | Radiant Senior Living Blog

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Daily calorie recommendations are not exact parameters to follow but are worth keeping in mind when trying to achieve or maintain a healthy weight.

Suggested Caloric Intake for Women over 50:

  • Women who live a sedentary lifestyle should have about 1,600 calories per day.
  • For women with average activity levels, 1,800 calories is appropriate.
  • For those who are very active, 2,000 to 2,200 calories is recommended.

Suggested Caloric Intake for Men over 50:

  • Those who are inactive should have about 2,000-2,200 calories per day.
  • Moderately active men should have 2,200 to 2,400 calorie
  • Men who are very active should have 2,400 to 2,800 calories.

Diet and Exercise for Healthy Weight Maintenance

A healthful diet and regular exercise are essential to weight loss, gain, or maintenance. In addition to all of the health benefits of achieving or maintaining a healthy weight, diet and exercise can also help boost cognition, prevent depression, and aid in achieving quality sleep. Diets that focus on overall nutrition and calorie count are suggested over restrictive and hard to follow diets. Regular exercise may be as easy as regular walks, as long as you’re increasing your heart rate for at least 20 minutes, three to five days a week.

A Parting Challenge

Whether you wish to lose, gain, or maintain weight, let us know about your healthy-weight plans and progress. We would love to hear about your journeys. Comment below!

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