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Obesity And Weight Management For Seniors

by | Apr 24, 2024 | Caregivers Concern, Caregiving, Community, Lifestyle & Wellness, Lifestyle habits, Resources

Definition of obesity

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) overweight and obesity are defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health. A body mass index (BMI) over 25 is considered overweight, and over 30 is obese.


Causes of weight gain

Food intake: When one’s caloric consumption is greater than their output, this is how one gains weight and especially so for seniors who might not be as mobile as compared to their younger days, weight gain is common among seniors. 

Daily activity levels: As one ages, one might not be able to participate in as much regular physical activity as they would like. This could be due to muscle degeneration, pain in the joints when walking, among a myriad of other factors. According to the Centres for Disease Control, Adults aged 65 and older need at least 150 minutes a week (for example, 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week) of moderate-intensity activity such as brisk walking.

Underlying health conditions: Weight gain can be a sign of an underlying health condition, such as problems with the thyroid, kidneys, or heart.

Medication: Certain types of medication can cause weight gain. For example, many steroids can cause weight gain. So can medicines that treat mental health problems, such as depression and schizophrenia. 

Stress, poor sleep cycles: Insufficient sleep is associated with higher levels of the hormone ghrelin, which increases appetite,


How can seniors manage this?
Physical activity

Strength training helps the body to hold on to muscle which targets fat loss. Muscles are also metabolically active, so your body burns more calories even when at rest. To supplement this, one can make a conscious effort to increase protein intake. Protein helps in promoting muscle growth when one does strength training and also keeps one full for longer which can help with weight loss. 


Emotion tracking

Oftentimes, overeating and snacking could be a cause of emotions – be it experiencing boredom or negative emotions. When we feel stressed, we might tend to overeat and binge on sweets/unhealthy food. Thus, it is important to track emotions for effective weight management. 


Food modification 

Making modifications to your diet may be one of the most effective ways to control one’s caloric intake. From a pure diet point of view – see it as calories in calories out. Having a higher output than input is the way to drop that number on the scale. 

Having a glass of water before your meals, and substituting your usual picks for lower in fat/sugar options are just some of the many modifications you can make to your diet. 

Additionally, try practicing writing down what you eat daily to better help identify your eating patterns and possible ways of intervention to lose weight. 


Role of the caregiver

So how can caregivers support seniors with obesity and weight management?

  1. Create opportunities for loved ones to stay active. One does not necessarily need a gym to get in a workout but simply getting in a brisk walking session at the void deck or nearby park also cuts it. Keeping in mind that safety is a concern for seniors with mobility challenges, it is always advisable to have a caregiver around when partaking in any physical activity. Head to park connectors and even hiking trails which not only gets in a sweat but is also a great for seniors and their caregivers to bond
  2. Making a conscious effort to incorporate fruits, vegetables and protein into the diet would help a senior who is struggling to manage their weight. Oftentimes, one might not be the best at knowing how to create meal plans and the benefits of certain kinds of food. This is when caregivers can come in and do the research, ramping up their knowledge on creating healthy and nutritious meals for their loved ones
  3. Mentally and emotionally, seeing oneself gain weight might not be the easiest pill to swallow. Some might have a hard time adjusting to weight gain. Caregivers can help by practicing positive affirmation, steering away from negative body talk. 



To lead a healthy life, it is key to keep obesity and weight management in check. Weight gain might be a scary and frustrating process if not managed well. Caregivers play an integral role here, to help seniors with managing obesity and more importantly, helping them to cope emotionally and mentally. Do remember that it is normal to struggle and don’t hesitate to reach out if you need help. 

About Growing Needs

About Growing Needs

Growing Needs grew out of our own encounters with caring for our aging parents and reflecting on the Growing Needs that we ourselves would face as we advance in years. We hope to build a community that will learn, share and contribute towards caring for the growing needs of our loved ones.

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