Obesity in older adults: Effect of degree of weight loss on cardiovascular markers and medications Academic Article uri icon


  • Obesity worsens the age-related tendency towards cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Older adults are vulnerable to medication adverse effects. Intentional weight loss in older adults with obesity has been shown to improve cardiovascular and glycaemic markers. The effect of rapid weight loss induced by very-low-calorie diets (VLCDs) on these markers has not been evaluated in this group. In this 12-week study, participants were randomized to one of healthy eating, hypocaloric diet or VLCD, all combined with three times weekly exercise (Ex/HE, Ex/Diet, Ex/VLCD, respectively). The effects of these interventions on weight, blood pressure, lipids, glucose and HbA1c , inflammatory markers and cardiovascular and diabetes medication changes were measured. Weight loss was 3.7%, 5.1% and 11.1% in Ex/HE, Ex/Diet and Ex/VLCD, respectively. There were significant improvements in HbA1c in all groups, but by the greatest degree in Ex/VLCD (0.18 ± 0.07%, 0.18 ± 0.06% and 0.59 ± 0.13%, respectively). Similar patterns were seen in total cholesterol (0.13 ± 0.15, 0.21 ± 0.11 and 0.53 ± 0.13 mmol/L, respectively, P = .047), triglycerides (0.35 ± 0.13, 0.20 ± 0.10 and 0.51 ± 0.09 mmol/L, respectively, P = .011) and systolic blood pressure (9 ± 2, 2 ± 3 and 14 ± 3 mmHg respectively, P = .025). There were no between-group differences in fasting glucose, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, LDL-C and inflammatory markers. Reductions in anti-hypertensive or diabetes medication were made in 4/29, 7/36 and 16/37 participants in Ex/HE, Ex/Diet and Ex/VLCD, respectively (P = .017). Significant weight loss achieved with a VLCD gave rise to improvements in multiple cardiovascular risk markers, despite reduction in medication. Weight loss is an under-utilized method of cardiovascular risk management in this group.


publication date

  • 2019