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Elderly Weight Loss can be Deadly

Posted - Mar. 19, 2004 at 5:20 p.m.



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ST. LOUIS, Mar 19, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- U.S. researchers said Friday that despite the obesity epidemic, weight loss is actually a bigger concern to the elderly.

"Despite the fact that almost every study shows that intentional and unintentional weight loss in the elderly results in premature death and disability, the public is continuously barraged with information on the evils of obesity and how food intake should be curtailed," said Dr. John Morley, director of the division of geriatric medicine at Saint Louis University School of Medicine.

Weight loss -- not weight gain -- in the elderly should send up a red flag about health problems, Morley said.

"As many as 16 percent of Americans over the age of 65 consume less than 1,000 calories a day, putting them at severe risk of malnutrition," Morley said.

Other research found nearly one-third of elderly patients who continue to lose weight died, while more than 90 percent survived after reversing their pattern of weight loss.

"Numerous studies have shown that weight loss in older persons leads to illness and death," Morley added. "They begin a cycle of starvation that is difficult to break."

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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