According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one-third of adults age 65 and older were obese during the period from 2007-2010. Since that time, obesity rates for all Americans has increased – and obesity among older adults has risen most of all. According to a poll conducted by Gallup and Healthways, the obesity rate among seniors increased by four percentage points during the years 2008 to 2014 – from 23.4 percent in 2008 to 27.4 percent in 2014.
We’ve all heard that being overweight may have a negative impact on our overall health. But it may be even more dangerous for seniors, as an aging body may become more susceptible to disease and chronic conditions. Obesity increases inflammation (which may exacerbate everything from arthritis to heart disease), increases the rate of bone and muscle loss, and significantly raises one’s risk for heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, some cancers, and diabetes.
The good news is that, for most people, obesity is a treatable condition that comes with many benefits.
Weight Loss Benefits
You’ll Lower Your Risk for Many Diseases
As we discussed above, obesity raises your risk for a variety of deadly diseases. Cutting the weight can, in many cases, immediately reduce your risk for these diseases.
You’ll Lower Your Risk of Injury
Not only does carrying extra pounds increase your risk of disease, it nearly doubles your risk of injury. In a study conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 85 percent of workers injured on the job were overweight.
Your Memory May Improve
According to several studies, losing weight may improve your memory. In one study, obese people were divided into two groups – one group had gastric bypass surgery, the other didn’t. After 12 weeks, both groups took a set of memory tastes, similar to the ones taken before the study began. The surgery patients, who lost an average of 50 pounds, showed improvement in a number of cognitive abilities, including memory. Those who had not had the surgery showed a mild decline in memory. Additionally, obesity has been shown to be one of the risk factors for developing Alzheimer’s disease.
You’ll Sleep Better
Obesity raises your risk factor for sleep disorders, including apnea, one of the most serious. Sleep disorders generally result in a lack of restful sleep, which produces more of the hormone ghrelin, which makes you hungry. The hungrier you are, the more you eat, which, in turn, decreases your chance of having a good night’s sleep. A viscous circle. By losing weight, you’ll sleep better, increasing your chances of being less hungry. If you’re less hungry, you’ll eat less. If you eat less, you may lose weight. Turn a viscous circle into a virtuous circle.
You’ll Breathe Easier
Carrying extra pounds – particularly around the midsection – can press on the diaphragm and make breathing more difficult. Additionally, the more you weigh, the harder your lungs have to work when you’re physically active. In a study conducted by the University of Ottawa, a 10 percent reduction in weight resulted in a five percent boost in lung function.
You’ll Have More Energy
Those extra pounds makes it harder for your heart to get blood to every part of your body and for your body to move extra pounds from Point A to Point B. Just imagine having to carry a 30-pound sack of flour around all day and you’ll understand what we mean. Shedding those pounds means your body has to work less hard, freeing up all kinds of energy – to play ball with the kids, to exercise more, to do whatever your heart desires!
So, now that you know the benefit of losing weight, the question is how do you do it? We’ll explore that issue in our next blog post!