As adults age, their overall well-being could be dependent on their weight. Being obese may lead to a number of health risks that only get worse with age, including heart disease, cardiac arrest and diabetes. Because many seniors know the risk of obesity, many may try to keep their body mass index (BMI) in check in an effort to stay healthy and live the highest quality of life possible. Those providing elderly care may also want to consider keeping their patients on a form of diet and exercise in order to keep their weight down.
A new study out of Harvard University published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that when it comes to dieting, people should worry less about the amount of calories they are consuming but rather the quality of said calories. The Boston Globe reports that researchers looked at three popular diets and noted which one had the most potential for keeping weight off. All of the diets had the same number of calories but had different levels of protein, fat and carbohydrates. The three diets looked at were the low-fat, low-carbohydrate and low-glycemic index.
According to the news provider, the low-fat diet showed the greatest reduction in metabolic rate, meaning participants were more likely to put on weight in the long-term because they won't be able to break down the food as quickly.
The second diet of low-carbohydrates was able to burn more calories, but the participants still had stress and inflammation, which the study's authors suggested could have harmful effects on the body over the long-term.
The low-glycemic index diet, which is heavy in fruits, vegetables and grains, found people were able to lose weight and did not experience an increase in bodily stress.
"You don't have to go to the extreme of eliminating all carbohydrates" study author Dr. David Ludwig told the news provider. "By simply focusing on quality of carbohydrates we can get similar advantages to low-carbohydrate diets but without the potential downsides."
In addition to trying a low-glycemic index diet, the National Institutes of Health reports there are other changes seniors can make. Decreasing portion sizes, staying away from artificial sweeteners and keeping up with an exercise regimen can help a person lose weight.
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