The paper "The Growing Prevalence of Obesity Among Older Adults by Houston, Nicklas, and Zizza" is a delightful example of an article on health sciences and medicine. The article “ Weighty concerns: The growing prevalence of obesity among older adults” by Houston, Nicklas and Zizza aim to provide evidence-based recommendations to food and nutrition practitioners to help them provide safe and effective weight management programs to community-dwelling obese older adults. Weight management in older adults is difficult because of the risks associated with increased body mass index and the potentially harmful effects of weight loss which include adverse effects on bones and muscles.
The authors recommend a diet consisting of a reduction of 500 to 750 kcal per day resulting in a weekly weight loss of about 1 to 1.5 lb. I agree with this recommendation as diets that restrict energy intake to less than 800 kcal per day may result in health complications (Graham 2006). The authors also highlight the need to include multi-vitamins, mineral supplements and proteins in the diet. The authors recommend using individually tailored weight loss programs for older adults, after carefully considering their co-morbid conditions, level of physical activity, potential effects on muscle mass and bone density and diet recommendations.
I believe that this is of prime importance as individually tailored programs to improve muscle strength and balance have been proved to reduce falls in older adults (Agency for Health Research and Quality 2002). Providers need to be cautious while using medications like orlistat and aggressive treatments like bariatric surgery. Orlistat is known to decrease the absorption of dietary triglycerides thereby inhibiting the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and nutrients.
Bariatric surgery is another risky course of treatment. I strongly agree with the authors in that these treatment modalities should be used in patients with high BMI and severe co-morbidities only after weight loss goals through lifestyle changes have failed. It is also extremely important to inform patients about potential side-effects and lack of long term safety data (Brethauer, Kashyap & Schauer 2010). In conclusion, weight management in obese older adults is a challenging task. In light of the growing obesity issue among older adults and the challenges pertaining to treatment modalities, food and nutrition experts have an important role in guiding and managing the weight of older adults.