HANOVER, N.H., Sept. 20 (UPI) -- Physical activity and a healthier diet can improve bodily function and quality of life in older obese people, according to a review of studies.
Researchers at Dartmouth University found exercise and an improved diet have significant benefits for older obese people, though the effect is not nearly as great without both, according to the study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
"Obesity in older adults is a significant public health concern that will increasingly become a burden to society if we do not address it promptly," Dr. John Batsis, a researcher at Dartmouth and lead author of the study, said in a press release.
For the study, the researchers reviewed 5,741 studies, analyzing 19 -- six unique and 13 based on the same study population -- which included 405 participants between the ages of 66.7 and 71.1.
Five of the studies included a resistance exercise program and dietary portion, with greater weight loss seen in those altering their diets than just increasing exercise. Although it did not lead to weight loss, exercise alone did lead to improvements in physical function.
Overall, the studies were relatively consistent in suggesting both dietary alterations and increases in activity are necessary to achieve improvements to physical performance and quality of life, but the researchers say more, and larger, studies are needed.
"We need solid evidence on how to effectively engage this group of patients to not only improve their weight but, importantly, improve their physical function," Batsis said.