University of Massachusetts Amherst

It's MORE Than A Meal


Special Nutrition Needs of Older Adults


Why Obesity is a Problem

The prevalence of obesity in the U.S. has doubled in the past two decades. Obesity raises the risk for premature death, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, gall bladder disease, gout, osteoarthritis, and some types of cancers.

Causes of Weight Gain

There are many possible causes of weight gain in older adults. The major cause is being less physically active. Other possible causes are burning fewer calories with age due to a slower metabolism; having an underactive thyroid or other medical disorder; or taking medications with a side effect of promoting weight gain.

Achieving an Optimal Body Weight

Ideally, adults should achieve and maintain a body weight that is good for their health. For obese adults, even losing as little as 10 pounds provides health benefits. Reducing caloric intake by as little as 50 to 100 calories per day may help prevent weight gain. Eating 500 fewer calories per day is a common goal in weight-loss programs. Strategies to reduce calories include serving smaller portion sizes, and serving foods with fewer calories, such as low-fat foods and foods without added sugars.

Treating Obesity

Treating obesity requires the advice and supervision of a participant’s health care providers (doctor, registered dietitian, and nurse). It may involve a supervised program of diet and exercise.

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Developed for the Massachusetts Department of Education Child and Adult Care Food Program by the University of Massachusetts Extension Nutrition Education Program. Permission is hereby granted by the Massachusetts Department of Education to copy any or all parts of this document for non-commercial educational purposes. The Massachusetts Department of Education, an Affirmative Action employer, is committed to ensuring that all of its programs and facilities are accessible to all members of the public. We do not discriminate on the basis of age, color, disability, national origin, race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation.