Obesity Interventions for Older Adults: Diet as a Determinant of Physical Function.
Throughout the world, a high prevalence of obesity in older populations has created a new phenotype of frailty: the obese, functionally frail older adult. The convergence of the obesity epidemic with global graying will undoubtedly increase the prevalence of this concern. Barriers to treatment include ambiguities about the appropriate level of obesity that should trigger an intervention, due to age-related physiologic changes and a lack of consensus on specific criteria and cutoffs. Moreover, obesity interventions for this population have been limited by concerns about negative effects on lean mass, bone mineral density, and even mortality. However, newly reported approaches for restoring physical function by obesity reduction have shown good short-term efficacy. Because the majority of these interventions have used exercise as part of the treatment, this review focuses specifically on current understanding of the discrete effects of dietary interventions for geriatric obesity with regards to functional outcomes on tests including the Short Physical Performance Battery, the Physical Performance Test, and the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index. The literature showed roughly equal benefits to function from a weight reduction diet or exercise regimen, although neither modality was as efficacious alone as the 2 combined. Only 1 of 3 studies of protein intake during weight loss showed a positive effect of protein on function, but findings to date are too limited to prove or disprove a protein benefit. We conclude that although diet and exercise should be combined whenever possible, it remains important to further investigate the beneficial and likely unique effects that calorie restriction and/or nutrient modification can provide, particularly for obese and functionally frail older populations.
Bales, CW; Porter Starr, KN
Volume / Issue
Start / End Page
Pubmed Central ID
Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)