Approach to Obesity in the Older Population

Assaf Buch, Yonit Marcus, Gabi Shefer, Paul Zimmet, Naftali Stern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Until recently, weight loss in older obese people was feared because of ensuing muscle loss and frailty. Facing overall increasing longevity, high rates of obesity in older individuals (age ≥65 years) and a growing recognition of the health and functional cost of the number of obesity years, abetted by evidence that intentional weight loss in older obese people is safe, this approach is gradually, but not unanimously, being replaced by more active principles. Lifestyle interventions that include reduced but sufficient energy intake, age-adequate protein and micronutrient intake, coupled with aerobic and resistance exercise tailored to personal limitations, can induce weight loss with improvement in frailty indices. Sustained weight loss at this age can prevent or ameliorate diabetes. More active steps are controversial. The use of weight loss medications, particularly glucagon-like peptide-1 analogs (liraglutide as the first example), provides an additional treatment tier. Its safety and cardiovascular health benefits have been convincingly shown in older obese patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. In our opinion, this option should not be denied to obese individuals with prediabetes or other obesity-related comorbidities based on age. Finally, many reports now provide evidence that bariatric surgery can be safely performed in older people as the last treatment tier. Risk-benefit issues should be considered with extreme care and disclosed to candidates. The selection process requires good presurgical functional status, individualized consideration of the sequels of obesity, and reliance on centers that are highly experienced in the surgical procedure as well as short-term and long-term subsequent comprehensive care and support.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2788-2805
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • body mass index
  • elderly
  • metabolic syndrome
  • obesity
  • sarcopenia


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