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Risk of Weight Gain in Later Life

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 8 Feb 2013 | comments*Discuss
Retirement Weight Gain Elderly Weight

All of us are putting our health at risk if we are overweight, but in retirement you are far less likely to lead as active a lifestyle as you did when you were working. Even the fact that you were going to work, no matter what the nature of your job, meant that you’d be burning off more calories than if you were just sat at home. That said, many people in retirement choose to lead a more active lifestyle than they did when they were working which is good news.

However, as we age, no matter what exercise we do and what we eat, our bones and vital organs are still ageing and it’s important that we try to look after them as best as we can. Here are just some of the most common ailments that elderly people are at risk of suffering if they are overweight and fail to do anything about it.

Heart Disease and Stroke
The result of being overweight leads to high levels of cholesterol and blood fats which, in turn, can lead to strokes and heart disease. Some figures suggest that putting on 20 pounds above your normal weight can double your risk of heart disease.

If you’re overweight or obese, you’re more prone to suffering with type 2 diabetes as your blood cells become less capable of removing sugar from the blood. This increases the strain on those blood cells which produce insulin which results in them being unable to keep producing it over a period of time. Type 2 diabetes is very much connected with your weight and it’s estimated that 80% of all sufferers are either overweight or obese.

Blood Pressure
It’s estimated that being just 20% overweight increases your risk of suffering from high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease and stroke, by more than 8 times.

Not all cancers are linked to being overweight but cancer of the kidney, oesophagus, colon and, in women, uterine and postmenopausal breast cancer are known to be connected to excess weight.

Liver Damage
Fatty deposits which have built up over time in the liver can cause inflammation and injury resulting in major liver damage, cirrhosis and liver failure.

Although even the healthiest and physically fit people can ultimately succumb to osteoarthritis as their bones and joints get older, excess weight puts more pressure and strain on things like your cartilages and joints which causes the inflammation which leads to osteoarthritis.

Other Risks
The ailments described above are just some of the more common ones associated with getting older and carrying excess weight. However, if you are overweight in later life, you are also more at risk of suffering from gout, varicose veins, sleep apnoea, gallstones and incontinence to name but a few. It’s also correct to assume that these weight related ailments can affect people at a much younger age too but the elderly are taking a particular risk by not keeping their weight in check.

Therefore, once you retire and as you get older, it’s important to maintain a healthy, balanced diet and to get into the habit of undertaking some regular physical exercise at least 2 or 3 times a week.

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