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April 2024
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Older Obese Individuals can Improve Mobility Through Walking and Weight Loss

A study from the Wake Forrest University found that weight loss and walking can help older obese adults improve their mobility.

Obesity is a common health problem in various societies and demographics. Though the prevalence of the health condition is higher in certain social backgrounds, the number of obese individuals is continuing on an upward trend. Typically, obesity is seen as an accumulation of excess and abnormal amounts of fat in his body. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a person whose BMI is equal to or more than 30 is considered to be obese. And more than the restricted movements and limited mobility, obesity is also seen as a major risk factor for developing diseases which includes diabetes, atherosclerosis, hypertension, and other chronic illnesses.

In the WHO’s latest global data regarding obesity, approximately 1.6 billion adults are overweight and no more than 400 million are obese. They had also projected that by 2015 the number of obese individuals will grow to around 700 million. These numbers is also projected to directly affect the prevalence of certain health conditions linked to obesity. Years back, surveys proved than obesity is a problem limited to high-income countries. But this changed over the years as the number of obese cases grew in low and middle income countries.

There are various factors that significantly affect a person’s risk of becoming obese. The primary reason is the consumption of disproportionate amount of calories against the person’s calorie expenditure. The bad habits of excessive intake of foods rich in fats and sugars but deficient in minerals, vitamins and micronutrients and the lack of physical activities are causing the problem. And these observations can be seen on a global perspective.

People who are clinically overweight are being found to be at risk of developing certain serious diseases like cardiovascular disease, some types of cancer, musculoskeletal disorders and diabetes. The health problem of obesity is more serious during old age. Obese individuals ages 50 and above are finding it more difficult to manage the condition and are at higher risk of permanent disability and serious health complications resulting to increased mortality rate. But one study found natural ways to help older obese adults better cope with their condition.

Walking and Losing Weight Improves Mobility for Older Obese individuals

A study conducted by a team of researchers from the Wake Forrest University observed that weight loss and walking can improve the mobility of older individuals with obesity and cardiovascular conditions by 20 percent. The study lasted for five years and involved 288 study participants. It is published online on the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The popular belief says that losing weight can be harmful to people at old age. But contrary to this, the researchers found that participating in physical activities and losing weight can be the best means of improving their mobility. According to lead researcher and Professor of Health and Exercise Science, Jack Rajeski, their research is one of the first large scale studies which shows that weight loss can improve the health of older obese individuals with cardiovascular health conditions. This gives health care practitioners more ways to address the needs of senior patients with limited to poor mobility.

Rajeski said that the statistics showing the increasing population of older adults call for a need to find cost-effective community-based lifestyle intervention programs to improve their mobility. In addition to this, they found that 60 percent of the people in this age group are only walking an average of one mile per week. The co-investigators include Michael Perri from the University of Florida, Jacquelyn McClelland and Lucille Bearon from the North Carolina State University, and professor of health and exercise science Peter Brubaker, Walter Ambrosius and Dr David Goff of Wake University. Rajeski added that a community-based preventive lifestyle intervention is very important.

The team of researchers partnered with three health care professionals and with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension to effectively conduct the study and gather reliable results. The study participants aged 60 to 79 were tracked over a period of 18 months and were divided into three groups. The control group was educated on successful aging, the other was asked to participate in physical activities and weight loss programs while the third group was limited to physical training.

The results from the group subjected to physical training showed significant effects but researchers found that the combination of weight loss and physical activity produced more notable results. The study participants exhibited improved mobility by 5 percent, while those who had limited mobility improved by around 20 percent. To observe their improvements, the participants were asked to take a 400-meter walk; this is a widely used method of measuring the mobility of senior individuals. The researchers said that prevention is very important for older people who are starting to lose their mobility since the symptoms can be progressive and often result to permanent disability.

Rajeski concluded that a person’s ability to walk without any assistance is vital in improving a person’s capacity to function better in the community. He added that the next step will be to establish a model that can be replicated at different areas in the United States and that they will be working with other institutions in the state to achieve this goal.

Natural Ways to prevent Obesity

Obesity is highly preventable. Though some researchers had found that some people are more genetically inclined to the development of the health condition, natural methods can be implemented in order to lower the risk.

The essential step is to maintain energy balance and participate in more physical activities. A person’s energy intake needs to appropriately respond to the person’s physical activities without taking his nutritional needs for granted. Foods rich in harmful fats needs to be avoided, while the consumption of fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains, legumes and nuts needs to be increased as these are energy-giving foods. The recommended physical activity is a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise in most days of the week. The initiative of maintaining a healthy weight needs to come from the individual and this needs to be for the purpose of promoting better health and preventing the onset of health conditions including obesity.


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  5. ‘Egg’ceptional Diet Option: Limited, Daily Egg Consumption Can Increase Weight Loss Results

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