Older women may face negative consequences with weight regain after loss

June 08, 2017

The long term consequences of losing muscle mass in middle aged and older women is yet unknown, but in combination with the loss in bone density known to occur as we age, the loss of muscle could increase their fall risk, among other things.

"There are certainly a lot of health benefits to weight loss, if you can keep the weight off," Nicklas said. "For older women who lose weight, however, it is particularly important that they keep the weight off and continue to eat protein and stay physically active so that, if the weight does come back, it will be regained as muscle instead of fat."

She cautioned that the results from this study were limited to sedentary, abdominally obese, postmenopausal women, and the findings may differ in men or in younger populations. Future studies of weight cycling are needed to determine its effects on muscle strength, quality, and function and body composition in older adults after all weight lost is regained, she said.

"Many health complications associated with overweight and obesity are improved with weight loss," the researchers wrote. "However, negative consequences (such as loss of muscle mass and bone density) are also associated with weight loss and are detrimental for older adults, which results in a reluctance to recommend intentional weight loss in this population??¦Because lean mass loss in older adults may be associated with the development of adverse health events and disability, it is important to examine whether the benefits of weight loss outweigh the risks in this population."

Source: Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center

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