Intentional weight-loss lowers mortality rate for seniors, research shows

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Older adults who purposefully lose weight have a lower mortality rate, according to new research.

This study was designed to determine whether or not overweight and obese elderly people who actively sought weight-loss were at heightened risk of death. The Wake Forest University researchers looked at data on 318 elderly adults enrolled in weight-loss-related mortality trials in the 1990s. Half of those individuals actively lost weight through exercise programs, losing an average of 10.5 pounds over 18 months. The other half lost 3.1 pounds during that time naturally, according to the study. Previous studies comparing weight-loss in seniors with likelihood of death generally have not taken into consideration the cause of the weight-loss, researchers say.

After eight years, researchers noted that there were half the number of deaths in the active weight-loss group than in the natural weight-loss group. That suggests that intentional weight-loss does not increase the risk of mortality among the elderly. There was even a reduction in mortality for the oldest of the participants, those aged 75 and older. The research appears online in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, and is scheduled for print in an upcoming edition of that journal.