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Anti-Obesity Medications, Exercise and How it Can Impact Older Adults

Anti-obesity medication(AOM) is prescribed to lose excess bodyweight for adults and children with obesity and as management for conditions such as type 2 diabetes or hypertension. Life style changes such as eating less and moving more has been effective for weight loss for people who are overweight, however it has not been a successful cure for obesity. People who take the anti-obesity medication for the first time experience a 15 % to 20+% of weightloss.

The anti-obesity drug impacts how much you eat, NOT how well you eat.

The anti-obesity drug also does NOT make you move more.

It is well known that when someone stops taking the medication even with a change in life-style change hunger returns, people eat more and weight gain happens. Research shows that nearly 20% of patients regained all the weight they had lost or more in the 12 months after stopping that drug, and another 26% regained more than a quarter of their original weight but were short of total regain. In order to manage bodyweight most people will need to stay on the medication longterm.

People receiving treatment with an anti-obesity medication

show a 25% to 40% loss in lean mass that includes muscle and bone density.

In people over 65 muscle is critical for

maintaining strength and mobility, and preventing frailty.

Fall and fracture risk

  • Loss of muscle and muscle strength: Weight loss drugs have become hugely popular, but for older adults there may be more risks. When a person loses weight — be it from medication, strict dieting, or bariatric surgery, what you lose is not just body fat. About a quarter is typically from the loss of lean mass, like muscle and bone, which is essential for metabolism and preventing injury as we age. The American College of Sports Medicine reports that people receiving treatment with an anti-obesity medication show a 25% to 40% loss in lean mass that includes muscle and bone density. For younger adults, the loss of muscle may not cause problems right away, but in people over 65, muscle is critical for maintaining strength and mobility, and preventing frailty. Muscle weakness is a risk factor in falls among older adults, one of the leading causes of injury death for that age group, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. loss of bone density increases fracture risk in the event of a fall or spontaneous fractures.

  • Dizziness: Some people experience dizziness when taking anti-obesity medication, for an older adult who is already at high fall risk, taking the medication may place them at an even higher risk for falling, injury and/or death especially when this is paired with muscle loss, decreased muscle strength, reduced mobility, and weaker bones increasing fracture risk.

  • Nutrient deficiencies: Many older adults are having nutritional deficiencies for various reasons and taking anti-obesity medications with as side effects gastrointestinal issues may further increase deficiencies and are linked to cognitive impairment, osteoporosis, anemia, immune response, fatigue, possibly leading to frailty, etc.

Outweighing the pro's and con's of taking anti-obesity medication, the benefits and risks should be a decision you make with your healthcare provider. When you are 65 or older, or have experienced balance problems then discussing the possible increased fall and fracture risk with your doctor is important.

A fresh start

Getting used to your new body during tor after taking anti-obesity medications and reshaping your wellness goal by embracing a multifaceted lifestyle change and an opportunity for a fresh start with new healthy habits for a better life.

The FDA approved the anti-obesity medications as an adjunct to a reduced calorie diet and increased physical activity for chronic weight management. Anti-obesity medications are intended to be part of a comprehensive care plan that includes regular healthcare oversight and a personalized, multifaceted lifestyle program that incorporates a physical activity and healthy eating strategy such as increasing protein intake. Resistance training can improve strength and muscle tissue even when have lost some muscle.

Certified and qualified Exercise Physiologists, Medical Exercise Specialists and Personal Trainers can help you reshape your wellness goals by reframing your exercise prescription and exercise program to meet the unique changes that you are experiencing while taking or after taking anti-obesity medications.

Remember that anti-obesity medications impact how much you eat, not how well you eat and, the medication does not make you move more.

Changing your lifestyle habits will determine

your quality of life


your new body

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