Senior Weight Loss: How to Reach Your Ideal Weight

Pamela Cannaday by Pamela Cannaday | Licensed since 2011
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This article was updated on: 09/15/2018

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As you age, you may find your weight changing. Some weight loss for seniors is concerning and some is desirable. Read on to learn more about weight loss for seniors and reaching your ideal weight.

What is my ideal weight?

The first step to reaching your ideal weight is knowing what that weight is. You may feel too heavy or to thin but actually be at a healthy weight. One way to compare your weight to your height is through the body mass index, or BMI. BMI may be used to screen for health problems, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but it is not a health diagnostic.

  • An underweight BMI is below 18.5
  • A normal BMI is 18.5-24.9
  • An overweight BMI is 25-29.9
  • An obese BMI is 30 and above

For example, someone who is 5’5 and weighs 150 pounds would have a BMI of 25 and be slightly overweight. Keep in mind that these BMI calculations are only a comparison of your weight to your height. They do not factor in anything else, such as your muscle mass or your gender. You can use the CDC’s BMI calculator here.

What is the right amount of calories for weight loss for seniors?

You may be able to make progress in weight loss for seniors and achieving your ideal weight by consuming the ideal number of calories. According to health.gov, the total number of calories a person needs per day varies depending on age, sex, height, weight and physical activity. Due to a decrease in basal metabolic rates that happen as someone ages, caloric needs also generally decrease for adults as they age.

  • Sedentary males age 61 and up generally need 2,000 calories per day
  • Active males 61 and up generally need an additional 400 to 600 calories per day
  • Sedentary females age 61 and up generally need 1,600 calories per day
  • Active females age 61 and up generally need an additional 400 calories per day.

(For the above numbers the reference male is 5’10 and weighs 154 pounds. The reference woman is 5’4 and weighs 126 pounds. If your body measurements vary from these reference numbers, your caloric needs may also vary.)  You may find out more about how much to eat for weight loss by using the government’s supertracker tool.

Voluntary weight loss for seniors

You may have gained undesirable weight and your doctor may have instructed you to start a weight loss program. According to a study published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, approximately 35 of U.S. Adults are overweight and an additional 30 percent are obese. (See the definitions of overweight and obese in the “What is my ideal weight” section above.) According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, health conditions associated with obesity include:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Certain types of cancer

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) being overweight or obese is largely preventable. To reach your ideal weight you must reach a balance of calories consumed and calories burned. According to WHO, in your diet you can:

  • Limit intake of fats
  • Consume unsaturated fats rather than saturated fats
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables
  • Eat more legumes, whole grains, and nuts
  • Limit sugar intake

In addition to diet, you can also exercise for weight loss. The WHO recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise on most days.

Involuntary weight loss for seniors

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, about 13% of adults experience unintentional or involuntary weight loss. Problematic weight loss can be defined as a loss of 5% of body weight in one month or 10% over a period of six months or longer. For example, if you weighed 126 pounds at the beginning of the month and 118 pounds at the end of the month, you would have experienced over a 6% weight loss within a month, which could be problematic weight loss. Involuntary weight loss may be associated with chronic conditions and could result in functional decline, ulcers and worsening cognitive disorders. According to the Mayo Clinic, malnutrition in older adults can result in

  • A weakened immune system
  • Increased risk of infections
  • Poor wound healing
  • Muscle weakness which can lead to falls

According to a study published by the National Institute of Health (NIH) options for oral nutrition support should be considered for any patient taking inadequate food and fluid to meet their requirements. The study lists options, such as nutritionally complete pre-packaged drinks. The Ensure drink is one example.

If you have other questions about how Medicare can help you with weight loss for seniors, I’d be happy to help. To set up a time to talk one-on-one about your Medicare needs, click the link below. You can also request an email from me with personalized Medicare information; you’ll find that link below as well. To start browsing on your own, click the Compare Plans button on this page.

This is article is not intended to be medical advice. Consult your doctor before changing your diet or beginning an exercise program.

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