06Jun

Here’s good news for those seniors who overdid it at the Thanksgiving table: It’s as easy for those over 60 to lose weight by making lifestyle changes as it is for those younger.

It still takes discipline and effort, but the study from the United Kingdom shows that with dietary changes, physical activity and appropriate support obese seniors can lose as much weight as younger people following the same regimen.

“Weight loss is important at any age,” said lead researcher Dr. Thomas Barber of Warwick Medical School, “but as we get older we’re more likely to develop the weight-related co-morbidities of obesity. Many of these are similar to the effects of aging, so you could argue that the relevance of weight loss becomes heightened as we get older.”

Researchers compared the weight loss of two groups of patients at the Warwickshire Institute for the Study of Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism. One group was under 60 and the other was between 60 and 78. Both groups followed the same lifestyle interventions and participated in the weight reduction program at the institute for an average of 41.5 months for the younger group and 33.6 months for the 60 and over group.

The older group lost an average of 7.3% of their body weight. The younger group lost an average of 6.9%. Most of the patients were morbidly obese when they started the program.

The researchers hope their findings dispel misconceptions about the effectiveness of weight loss programs for older people, as well as myths about the potential benefits of weight loss to seniors.

“There are a number of reasons why people may discount weight loss in older people. These include an ‘ageist’ perspective that weight-loss is not relevant to older people and misconceptions of reduced ability of older people to lose weight through dietary modification and increased exercise,” said Dr. Barber.

“Age should be no barrier to lifestyle management of obesity. Rather than putting up barriers to older people accessing weight loss programs, we should be proactively facilitating that process. To do otherwise would risk further and unnecessary neglect of older people through societal ageist misconceptions.”

The findings were published in Clinical Endocrinology.

Photo by Samuel Ramos on Unsplash

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Green Key
Jun 6, 2023

Blood Banks Seeking Healthy and Recovered Volunteers

A Red Cross plea last month for blood donors averted what the agency described as a shortage so severe some hospitals were only days from running out of blood.

So many volunteers stepped forward that the Red Cross now deems the supply “adequate.” “We say that cautiously, because we don’t know what will come,” Paul Sullivan, senior vice president of the American Red Cross told the Washington Post.

Now, besides continuing to urge healthy people to give blood, hospitals and blood banks are asking those who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate plasma.

In the tri-state area, the New York Blood Center and Mount Sinai Hospital have issued calls for recovered COVID-19 persons to donate.

“If you had #COVID19 and have recovered you can help save a life. Your blood may contain antibodies that fight the virus and can help critically ill people. Please fill out this form to see if you are eligible to be a volunteer: https://bit.ly/2vTHALk,” the hospital Tweeted.

Friday, the Food and Drug Administration approved plans to test two potential therapies derived from human blood. “These are called convalescent plasma and hyperimmune globulin and are antibody-rich blood products made from blood donated by people who have recovered from the virus,” the FDA said.

The FDA program supplements the National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project, an ad hoc effort organized by physicians and scientists across the country to investigate using convalescent plasma against the coronavirus. The project developed guidelines for using plasma and has detailed information for potential donors and Covid-19 patients.

Before the FDA acted, some of the researchers in the project were independently testing the antibody-rich plasma on a handful of seriously sick patients. It’s too soon to know the outcome, but initial reports suggest the therapy may be lessening their symptoms.

Using blood and plasma from recovered patients goes back more than 100 years. Before antibiotics, it was one of the only therapies available. It was sufficiently successful that it’s been used to treat other types of diseases such as SARS and Ebola. Though clinical studies of the therapies are few, a detailed analysis published in 2014 in The Journal of Infectious Diseases concluded, “Convalescent plasma may reduce mortality and appears safe.”

Meanwhile, blood banks across the country are looking to healthy, uninfected individuals to make up for the cancellation of blood drives, which provide about 80% of the nation’s blood supply. There’s still a need for blood, even though demand has lessened as elective surgeries are postponed and accidents and traumatic injuries have declines with fewer people driving.

At Ohio’s Cleveland Clinic, which conducted its own blood drive, emergency physician Baruch Fertel said that as long as donations continue, “We can stay out of trouble. But we’re not out of the woods. Folks who are healthy and recovered should consider giving blood.”

Photo by Testalize.me on Unsplash

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