Background

With the increasing population of older adults, obesity is becoming a growing problem as well. Obesity in older adults contributes to increasing health risks, co-morbidities, and healthcare costs, as well as decreased quality of life. Previous studies of weight loss in older adults have not included qualitative exploration of the older adult perspectives on weight loss.

Methods

In-depth interviews were conducted with older adults Following a 6-month weight loss intervention where participants received a calorically reduced meal plan (500 kcal) based on measured resting energy expenditure and 1.2 g/kg of protein to protect against muscle loss. Fourteen in-person follow up sessions were conducted over the 6-month intervention utilizing InBody770. Post-intervention Interviews were audio-taped, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed using constant comparative analysis.

Results

Mean age of participants was 66. Themes included meal plan strategies, biochemical and anthropometric motivators, face-to-face interaction and support, and external feedback and monitoring. Important counseling strategies include using visual graphs of weight, skeletal muscle mass, and body fat; problem-solving techniques specific to protein intake; and unconditional positive regard.

Conclusions

The qualitative analysis provided considerations for the development of strategies that may be helpful when conducting weight loss interventions with older adults. A conceptual framework has been constructed for other providers to understand the potential factors and pathways to increase weight loss success in older adults. Important counseling strategies included utilizing visual graphs of progress, problem-solving techniques specific to protein intake, and unconditional positive regard.