Aging and Weight Control

It’s no mystery that as we age maintaining a healthy body weight is more difficult.  Medical science has provided more specific tools to help in the battle of the bulge.  Here, we take a look at a few of the newer approaches to managing body weight as we grow older.

Hormone Therapies

The human body is a fascinating collection of complex and interdependent systems.  As we age some of these systems and their functions begin to decline.  The endocrine system of the body produces and releases hormones.  These powerful chemicals regulate many of the body’s functions.  Human growth hormone (HGH) is one of those that influences many metabolic processes that influence weight.  Declining amounts of HGH over time can interfere with healthy weight management.  Direct replacement therapies using synthetic HGH are helpful in some specific cases but have been known to cause complications.  One strategy being employed now is the use of peptides that indirectly influence a natural release of more HGH.  Sermorelin and ipamorelin are two of these growth hormone-releasing peptides.  When used appropriately they can help restore proper levels of HGH and, as a result, improve metabolic processes that govern weight control.

Drug Therapies

Many medicines used to help with weight management are in one form or other stimulants.  These medications can be effective in helping older adults to lose weight.  The risk-benefit of their use should be discussed with a physician.  Possible interactions with other medications being taken by senior adults is an important consideration.  The use of medications is most effective when accompanied by other weight management tools like diet and exercise.  Newer non-stimulant medications approved for weight management use include Belviq, Contrave and Victoza.  These medications act on different parts of the brain to influence the feelings of hunger and fullness.

Surgical Therapies

Bariatric surgeries are being used to physically alter some parts of the digestive tract.  These procedures change the size of the stomach and, in some cases, change other parts of the digestive tract.  The following are those procedures listed as most commonly employed.

  • Gastric Bypass
  • Sleeve Gastrectomy
  • Adjustable Gastric Band
  • BPD/DS Gastric Bypass

Each of these surgical procedures, in one way or another, involves reducing the total volume of the stomach.  Some of the procedures also alter the length and arrangement of the digestive tract.  These measures result in patients feeling full sooner.  Because it requires less food to feel full, the amount of food consumed is reduced.  This reduction in caloric intake results in weight loss.  Each surgical procedure involves risks and benefits and should be carefully considered and discussed with a physician specializing in this area of practice.

The variety of new tools and techniques for helping manage weight as we age is growing.  Each individual should consult with their physician in deciding what methods are most likely to be successful for them.  As we get older and our bodies change there are options to be considered that may help us manage things like our weight and improve our health later in life.