The older we get, the harder it can be to keep off the pounds. Even people who maintain a healthy weight in their earlier years often find themselves gradually getting heavier—and age-related metabolic changes mean more of that weight is fat, not muscle.
But it’s not inevitable that those extra pounds will settle in for the long haul. It’s never too late to make changes to achieve a healthy weight. Seniors who are substantially overweight have a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, arthritis, depression and several types of cancer. Here are some research findings to consider:
- Being overweight raises the risk of serious illness from COVID-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults with excess weight are more likely to contract COVID-19, to be hospitalized for serious complications, to experience long-term illness, and to die.
- Achieving a healthy weight can lower your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Many health conditions that are worsened by excess weight raise the risk of dementia. Excess body fat also increases dangerous inflammation in the body, and is linked with shrinkage of certain parts of the brain.
- Losing weight means less wear and tear on our knees. Recent studies show losing weight can slow the degeneration of cartilage in the knee and delay the need for knee replacement surgery.
- Excess weight threatens independence. Older adults who are overweight are more likely to suffer mobility problems and have trouble with the activities of daily living, such as driving and cleaning the house. They may become isolated and less able to exercise or be active in the community.
- A person can be overweight but undernourished. A diet of refined carbohydrates, added sugar and unhealthy fats can keep us steadily gaining weight while still lacking in the nutrients that are important for healthy aging.
Armed with these extra reasons to shed some pounds, talk to your doctor about a weight management plan that is individualized for you. The reasons people gain weight—and the best way for them to achieve a healthy weight—depends on many personal factors, and your doctor is the best source of advice for making 2022 the year you reach your goal.