A new review of popular diets, like the Atkins, NutriSystem, and Ornish plans, cautions that certain ones might not be appropriate for older adults. The research, published in this month's issue of Clinical Geriatrics, compared many weight-loss regimens, to judge their appropriateness for aging adults, for whom obesity is a growing problem.
Most of the diets resulted in weight loss, with Atkins, the Zone, Weight Watchers and Ornish diets proving equally effective at reducing weight over a period of a year. The University of Maryland School of Medicine researchers, warn however, that low-carbohydrate, high-protein regimens like Atkins and the Zone, may not be a wise choice for older adults, since they may not contain the nutrients required for healthy digestion, and the maintenance of bone health and muscle mass. These include fiber, calcium, potassium, and B vitamins.
The Mediterranean diet and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet were both applauded for their emphasis on fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains, which have been shown to reduce cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. Though the long-term behavioral changes and exercise encouraged by Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig were found to be effective for weight loss, the high sodium content of some packaged foods, and the cost of membership, can be a disadvantage, according to the researchers.
The paper discourages the use of supplement-supported diets based on fat-burners, or appetite suppressants, as they are not strictly controlled by the FDA, and they may interact with other medications. The paper concludes that the most effective diet is one that provides adequate nutrition, and is manageable to sustain weight loss at a moderate rate, over an extended period of time - which is good advice for people wanting to lose weight, at any age.
Hood Watson K, Chandrasekran S, Steinle NI. Popular diets: examining weight loss diets for geriatric patients. Clinical Geriatrics. 2012;20(2):25-31.http://www.clinicalgeriatrics.com/articles/Popular-Diets-Examining-Weight-Loss-Diets-Geriatric-Patients?page=0,0