Right now, about a third of older Americans are obese. With rising obesity rates, we also see an increase in illnesses. These illnesses decrease the quality and the quantity of life. Obesity increases the likelihood of acquiring diseases such as
- Heart disease
- Some cancers
Obesity carries other risks for the older adult too, such as social isolation, an increase in the likelihood of falls, and increased recovery time after illness or surgery. To support the healthy aging process, we need to support a healthy weight. Here are some ways you can do that!
- MyPlate is a great resource to learn about healthy eating and lifestyle choices. MyPlate for the older adult was launched in 2012 as a companion to the MyPlate tool. It recognizes that the older adult has special nutritional needs. As adults age, typically the daily calorie needs decline. This means the older adult should try to focus on eating primarily low-calorie, nutrient-dense foods while remaining active each day.
- SuperTracker is another great resource to help you track your intake. It is tailored to your unique needs based on activity level, gender, and age. This tool has a food encyclopedia called “Food-a-Pedia” to help you easily track what you eat and drink. Using this tool can help you understand how many calories you are taking in and make sure you are getting the vitamins and nutrients needed to stay healthy.
- Nutrition labels contain plenty of useful information. They can be tricky to read, but new standards are making them clearer.
- Look first at the serving size. We can fall victim to “portion distortion,”meaning we don’t always understand how big or small a portion is. Often we overestimate portion sizes, meaning we take in more than a portion size but feel it is the correct size. Measuring servings is a good way to get a better idea of portion sizes.
- Next check the calories for each serving size. Most older adults need about 1,800 to 2,000 calories per day. After creating a profile in SuperTracker you will know exactly what your target calorie intake should be each day.
- Avoid foods high in sugar and sodium. Typically, processed foods are the biggest offenders. The best way to avoid sugar and sodium? Eat whole foods—food items that do not come out of a bag, box, or can. Choose instead raw fruit and vegetables and whole grains.
There are many other tools, videos, and handouts in the web sites listed below to help support a healthy diet and lifestyle for the older adult. Some of the tools include menu planning, recipes, and a body mass index (BMI) calculator. By using these resources and recommendations, you can help to decrease your risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure. You can also help yourself boost energy levels and maintain a healthy weight!
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Adult obesity prevalence maps. Retrieved from:
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (2013). Serving sizes and portions. Retrieved from:
United States Department of Agriculture. (2017). Choose MyPlate. Retrieved from:
United States Department of Agriculture. (2017). SuperTracker. Retrieved from:
Learn more about Carrie’s publication’s CNA: Nursing Assistant Certification Textbooks and Workbooks.
Adopters of her publications are able to receive consulting work to adapt the book’s curriculum and also presentations on the following topics:
- What are the determinants of good health?
- Health Literacy…how to better understand the language of health care to navigate the health care system effectively.
- Does nutrition and physical activity play a large role in how we age?
- Managing medications, traditional vs. alternative.
- How to support an older adult who wants to “age in place” and what that means.
- How to know when an older adult needs extra services and what those are. Skilled care facility vs. assisted living facility.
- How to adapt caregiving to the “silver tsunami” who have higher expectations of care and are more informed on their health care options than ever before.
- Why is there a current caregiver crisis in the U.S.?