Weight Loss and Physical Activity in Obese Older Adults: Impact on Skeletal Muscle and Bone

  • Dylan R. Kirn
  • Roger A. FieldingEmail author


The prevalence of overweight and obesity continues to be a major public health concern worldwide. Obesity is a major risk factor for the development of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and increased mortality. Concerns about obesity and overweight among older adults have been far more controversial. The association of overweight and obesity with increased disease burden persists in older adults, and overweight and obesity are also strongly associated with the development of physical disability in this population. However, the efficacy for treatment of obesity in older adults remains an open debate. For obese older adults, who may require weight loss to reduce the risk of cardiometabolic syndrome, weight loss may not be recommended as the associated loss of bone and muscle could leave these individuals at higher risk for frailty and fracture. Thus, optimal strategies for reducing fat mass while preserving bone and muscle mass need to be further evaluated. This chapter will first review the usual age-related changes in skeletal muscle and bone mass with advancing age, the controversy surrounding intentional weight loss in older adults, and discuss the role of diet and physical activity interventions for the successful loss of body fat with specific reference to their effects on bone and skeletal muscle.


Obesity Weight loss Sarcopenia Physical activity Energy restriction 



Appendicular lean mass


Bone mineral density


Fat-free mass


Fat mass


Lean mass


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Nutrition, Exercise Physiology, and Sarcopenia LaboratoryJean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts UniversityBostonUSA

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