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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Special Topics > Weight Loss and Age
      Category : Health Centers > Weight Control and Management

Weight Loss and Age

Age affects the ability to lose weight in various ways.

What is the information for this topic?

People often say that as they get older it becomes more difficult to lose weight. There is some truth to this.

People often become less active as they get older, causing them to add a few extra pounds. They may not have as much time for exercise because of jobs, family, and the activities of everyday life. Medical conditions such as coronary artery disease, and musculoskeletal problems such as arthritis, may also cause people to exercise less. People should check with their healthcare providers before limiting their activity level when they have medical conditions. Appropriate exercise often benefits these conditions.

As people age, metabolism slows slightly and less calories are needed. Although the amount is slight, over time the extra calories add up. It takes a reduction of 3500 calories to lose one pound. Any shift in either the amount of food eaten or the amont of exercise performed can impact the amount of weight that is lost or gained. So over time, eating just an extra 115 calories a day over the course of one month can cause a gain of 1 pound a month. People tend to eat the same amount of food as they did when they were younger and more active. If they do not decrease the amount of food, they gain weight.

Many people begin to slowly lose weight in their seventies or eighties. This is often the result of eating less due to medical problems, denture problems such as dentures that fit poorly, or painful teeth or gums, which makes chewing and swallowing food difficult. Other causes of weight loss can include depression and use of medications that have side effects that decrease the appetite.

People who would like to lose weight should discuss it with their healthcare providers. Losing weight is like balancing a scale. Too many calories and not enough exercise can lead to weight gain. Too few calories and more exercise can lead to weight loss. It is a game of balance.

Author: James Broomfield, MD
Reviewer: Iris Hill, RD, MA
Date Reviewed: 04/06/01

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