Older adults may be physiologically less able to cope with the normal dietary temperance of their younger counterparts, according to a Tufts University study published in the November issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association. The study is the first to link weight problems among the elderly to a defective appetite.
Though the exact biological cause has not been determined, the study indicates that elderly adults may undergo a physiological change that hampers the way the brain communicates a person's need to eat. The problem does not appear to affect all elderly, however, elderly who experience undesirable weight shifts must be more conscious of their food intake, according to Dr. Susan B. Roberts, chief of the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging's energy metabolism lab.
The study proved that older men's bodies apparently failed to tell them that they were hungry or full, despite a dramatic change in diet. Unexplained weight shifts are a particularly acute problem among elderly who emerge from a hospital stay, battle illness, or undergo changes in their lifestyles. The study was significant due to the fact that weight gain in the elderly can be a supporting cause of diabetes and heart disease.