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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UAB Investigators Analyze Risks and Benefits of Calorie Restriction in Obese Older Adults

Dr. Julie Locher, professor in the departments of medicine and health care organization and policy and Associate Director for Enrichment of the Nutrition Obesity Research Center (NORC) at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, led a review of the mixed results generated from randomized clinical trials conducted to ascertain the benefits and risks of incorporating calorie restriction into lifestyle interventions for obese older adults to promote weight loss. Co-investigators are Dr. TaShauna U. Goldsby, postdoctoral fellow in the department of nutrition sciences and office of energetics; Dr. Amy Miskimon Goss, postdoctoral fellow in the department of nutrition sciences and NORC; Dr. Meredith L. Kilgore, professor and chair in the department of health care organization and policy; and Dr. Barbara Gower, professor in the department of nutrition sciences and associate scientist in the NORC; as well as Dr. Jamy Ard, former medical director of the EatRight Weight Management Services and vice chair for clinical care in the department of nutrition sciences.

[Photo: Dr. Julie Locher]

Dr. Locher observes that “the purpose of this review is three-fold: 1) to provide a more current status of the knowledge regarding recommendations of calorie restriction as part of a comprehensive lifestyle intervention to promote weight loss in obese older adults; 2) to determine what benefits and/or risks calorie restriction adds to exercise interventions in obese older adults; and 3) to consider not only outcomes related to changes in body composition, bone health, cardiometabolic disease risk, markers of inflammation, and physical function, but, also patient-centered outcomes that evaluate changes in cognitive status, quality of life, out-of-pocket costs, and mortality. Seven randomized controlled trials were identified that examined calorie restriction while controlling for exercise intervention effects.”

The researchers discovered that overall study results indicate calorie restriction in combination with exercise proves to be an effective approach to losing weight, but evidence regarding other outcomes was mixed or limited. Additionally, long-term follow-up that could ascertain the benefits or risks on outcomes is needed — as well as complementary studies carried out to identify strategies utilized by obese older adults currently dwelling in community settings — since the risk-benefit ratio remains uncertain.

“Calorie Restriction in Overweight Older Adults: Do Benefits Exceed Potential Risks?” was published online in March in the journal Experimental Gerontology.

Journal article: