Health Tips for Older Adults

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Why is keeping a healthy weight important?

As you age, you may notice changes in your body’s makeup. You may lose muscle mass, which may increase frailty. You may also burn fewer calories, especially if you are not very physically active. To prevent weight gain, you may need to eat fewer calories than you did when you were younger. This means you have fewer calories to help you get the nutrients your body needs for energy. So, you need to eat foods that are high in nutrients or are “nutrient dense.”

Keeping a healthy weight is crucial, but what is healthy varies from person to person. Ask your health care provider about what a healthy weight is for you.

Among older people, being underweight is of concern and may be related to not having enough to eat, not eating enough foods that are nutrient dense, or having an illness or disease.

Being overweight or obese is also of concern as extra weight may increase your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and bone issues. Eating wisely and being physically active to preserve muscle and bone may help you maintain strength and a healthy weight as you age.

Two standard measures for seeing if you are at a healthy weight are these:

  • The body mass index (BMI) is a measure of weight in relation to height. While a BMI score of 18.5 to 24.9 usually indicates a healthy weight for adults, the BMI is limited in how well it gauges body fat in older people or those who have lost muscle.
  • Measuring around your waist may tell you if you carry extra fat. A waist circumference of more than 35 inches for women or 40 inches for men indicates increased risk for a number of health problems.

Check with your health care provider if you have concerns about your weight.

See the For More Information section for a link to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website, where you can find an online tool for measuring BMI and learn more about measuring

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