For Seniors, Weight Loss May Be a Warning Sign

New study sees an association with mortality, especially for men
By Steve Huff,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 11, 2023 1:20 PM CDT
For Seniors, Weight Loss May Be a Warning Sign
   (Getty Images / stevanovicigor)

Losing weight is often more difficult with age, so a successful regimen of diet and exercise can be something to celebrate. However, a new study in JAMA Network Open suggests weight loss may not always be a good thing for older adults, reports CNN. Researchers saw an association between seniors' weight loss and mortality, especially among men, while weight gain showed no such association. If accurate, the study provides insight for medical professionals, who have historically been concerned about weight loss in older individuals with health conditions but may be unclear about the link when it comes to healthy adults, according to Dr. Monira Hussain, lead author and clinical epidemiologist at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.

Researchers recruited almost 17,000 Australians who were at least age 70 and more than 2,000 Americans at least 65 between 2010 and 2014. Of those participants, 1,256 died in the first years of follow-up. “Our study found that even a 5% weight loss increases mortality risk, particularly in older men,” says Hussain. Specifically, men who lost 5% to 10% of their body weight had a 33% higher risk, and those who lost more than 10% had a 289% higher risk. For women, the corresponding higher risks were 26% and 114%. The study did not account for whether the weight loss was intentional.

In general, the study is a call for older adults to keep track of their weight changes and "bring it up with their doctor for possible further screening or testing," says Perri Halperin, clinical nutrition director for the Mount Sinai Health System, who was not involved with the research. (More older people stories.)

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