A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Are you ever too old to lose weight?

Weight loss for older adults

Weight loss is top of mind for many of us. But if you’re an older adult who’s tried to lose weight, you know it’s not easy especially as metabolism slows with age.

Weight loss is top of mind for many of us, no matter our age, and there are lots of ways to go about taking off pounds.

But if you’re an older adult or know an older adult who’s tried to lose weight, you know it’s not easy especially as metabolism slows with age.

“It’s just harder to lose weight as you get older,” said Chrisanne Urban, a Marshfield Clinic Health System dietitian. “We create more habits with what we eat, we’re less active and may develop sedentary lifestyles and have more aches and pains, making movement more difficult.”

Got Medicare?

If you know someone who has Medicare benefits – parents, older neighbors or friends – and wants help to lose weight, Medicare offers a program available throughout the Health System that could do the trick. The program is called “Intensive Behavioral Therapy for Obesity.”

Through this program, Medicare beneficiaries may qualify for free weight-loss counseling sessions. It starts with an initial screening for body mass index (BMI) and then behavioral therapy sessions that include a dietary assessment and counseling to help weight loss by focusing on diet and exercise.

Never too late

“It’s never too late to lose weight, reach health goals and get back on track,” Urban said. “People enrolled in Medicare can receive counseling sessions through this program to discuss weight problems, get advice on diet and exercise, have progress monitored and get much-needed encouragement in regular visits.”

Urban has worked with this program for years “and people find it really nice to have one-on-one contact with a nutritional professional, like a registered dietitian, to help them work through the weight-loss process.”

Medicare, she explained, will waive the coinsurance or co-payment and deductible for these services.

What’s your number?

BMI is calculated by taking into account your height and weight. The higher the BMI, the greater the risk of developing health problems. To qualify for this program, those eligible must have a BMI of 30 or higher, which is considered obese. A healthy weight is considered to be a BMI of 24 or less while 25-29.9 is considered overweight.

The program also requires a referral from a Health System primary care provider.

Counseling includes:

  • One session every week for the first month.
  • One session every other week for two to six months.
  • Monthly sessions for six more months if at least 6.6 pounds has been lost by the sixth month, showing effort is being made.

“We work on making goals, providing education and making a healthier ‘you,’” she said. “And it’s never too late.”

To learn more, contact Marshfield Clinic Health System Nutrition Services, 715-387-5480.

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