Obesity and aging – conclusion and implications for future research

The gains made in healthy aging and life expectancy face the challenge of increasing obesity cases in the elderly.  With the United Nations estimates on population demographics indicating the proportion of people above the age of 65 gradually increasing for many countries, the failure to effectively deal with increasing adult obesity poses a risk for gains made by improved approaches towards healthcare. This paper evaluated the effectiveness of physical activity in preventing and treating obesity in old age. The study used BRFSS 2005 data and the WHEAT tool to carry out the analysis. The results of the study indicate that physical activity is a critical factor in reducing the risk of obesity and overweight both in the elderly (65 and above years) and the adults below this age though at varying rates.

Limitations to the study relate to various challenges noted with BRFSS data. Since the data estimating prevalence relies on self-reported measurements of height and weight, there is a likelihood of erroneous results with both male and female respondents having the tendency to overestimate their height and female respondents underestimating their weight (Merrill & Richardson, 2009). Similarly, the methodology involved in data collection for BRFSS reports leaves the sections of the society without fixed telephone connection out of the reports creating a possibility for underreporting of obesity cases (CDC, 2010a).

Irrespective of these limitations, the study bears a number of implications for obesity and aging research. With the obesity cases remaining high, there needs to be research into better ways that encourage the adult population to live a health lifestyle. Encouraging physical activity in addition to behavioral changes and healthy eating habits to prevent the onset of obesity could prove important in reducing the prevalence of obesity to manageable levels.

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