Exercise Plus Dieting Superior in Older Obese Individuals

The combination results in improved physical function compared with either approach alone

WEDNESDAY, March 30 (HealthDay News) -- Dieting plus exercise may be better than either alone for improvement in physical function in older adults who are obese, according to research published in the March 31 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Dennis T. Villareal, M.D., of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and colleagues randomly assigned 107 adults aged 65 years or older and obese to a control group, a diet group, an exercise group, or a diet plus exercise group to assess the effects on Physical Performance Test scores, frailty, body composition, bone mineral density, specific physical functions, and quality of life.

In the 93 participants who finished the study, scores on the Physical Performance Test increased more in the diet plus exercise group (21 percent) than in the diet, exercise, or control groups (12, 15, and 1 percent, respectively). Body weight decreased by 10 and 9 percent in the diet and diet plus exercise groups, respectively, but not in the exercise or control groups. The diet plus exercise group experienced improvements in strength, balance, and gait.

"These findings suggest that a combination of weight loss and exercise provides greater improvement in physical function than either intervention alone," the authors write.

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