Interventions to achieve long-term weight loss in obese older people

Miles Witham, Alison Avenell

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Design: systematic review and meta-analysis.

Data sources: thirteen databases were searched, earliest date 1966 to December 2008, including Medline, CINAHL, PsycINFO, the Cochrane database and EMBASE.

Study selection: we included studies with participants' mean age >= 60 years and mean body mass index >= 30 kg/m(2), with outcomes at a minimum of 1 year. Data were independently extracted by two reviewers and differences resolved by consensus.

Data extraction: nine eligible trials were included. Study interventions targeted diet, physical activity and mixed approaches. Populations included patients with coronary artery disease, diabetes mellitus and osteoarthritis.

Results: meta-analysis (seven studies) demonstrated a modest but significant weight loss of 3.0 kg [95% confidence interval (CI) 5.1-0.9] at 1 year. Total cholesterol (four studies) did not show a significant change: -0.36 mmol/l (95% CI -0.75 to 0.04). There was no significant change in high-density lipoprotein, low-density lipoprotein or triglycerides. In one study, recurrence of hypertension or cardiovascular events was significantly reduced (hazard ratio 0.65, 95% CI 0.50-0.85). Six-minute walk test did not significantly change in one study. Health-related quality of life significantly improved in one study but did not improve in a second study.

Conclusions: although modest weight reductions were observed, there is a lack of high-quality evidence to support the efficacy of weight loss programmes in older people.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)176-184
Number of pages9
JournalAge and Ageing
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010

Bibliographical note

This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Age and Ageing following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version Witham, M. & Avenell, A. (2010). 'Interventions to achieve long-term weight loss in obese older people.' Age and Ageing 39(2) pp. 176-184 is available online at:


  • obesity
  • older
  • weight loss
  • meta-analysis
  • elderly
  • systematic review
  • LIFE
  • RISK


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