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Age Ageing. 2010 Mar;39(2):176-84. doi: 10.1093/ageing/afp251. Epub 2010 Jan 18.

Interventions to achieve long-term weight loss in obese older people: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

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  • 1Section of Ageing and Health, University of Dundee, Ninewells Hospital, Dundee DD1 9SY, UK. m.witham@dundee.ac.uk



the prevalence of obesity is rapidly increasing in older adults. Information is required about what interventions are effective in reducing obesity and influencing health outcomes in this age group.


systematic review and meta-analysis.


thirteen databases were searched, earliest date 1966 to December 2008, including Medline, CINAHL, PsycINFO, the Cochrane database and EMBASE.


we included studies with participants' mean age > or = 60 years and mean body mass index > or = 30 kg/m(2), with outcomes at a minimum of 1 year. Data were independently extracted by two reviewers and differences resolved by consensus.


nine eligible trials were included. Study interventions targeted diet, physical activity and mixed approaches. Populations included patients with coronary artery disease, diabetes mellitus and osteoarthritis.


meta-analysis (seven studies) demonstrated a modest but significant weight loss of 3.0 kg [95% confidence interval (CI) 5.1-0.9] at 1 year. Total cholesterol (four studies) did not show a significant change: -0.36 mmol/l (95% CI -0.75 to 0.04). There was no significant change in high-density lipoprotein, low-density lipoprotein or triglycerides. In one study, recurrence of hypertension or cardiovascular events was significantly reduced (hazard ratio 0.65, 95% CI 0.50-0.85). Six-minute walk test did not significantly change in one study. Health-related quality of life significantly improved in one study but did not improve in a second study.


although modest weight reductions were observed, there is a lack of high-quality evidence to support the efficacy of weight loss programmes in older people.

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