If you have an elderly relative suffering from an illness that requires a strict diet to improve their health, you may be disappointed to learn that the diet isn’t going to have any significant improvements to their condition(s), according to research conducted by Gordon Jensen, head of Department of Nutritional Sciences at Penn State and study author.
“The results suggest that if you live to be this old, then there may be little to support the use of overly restrictive dietary prescriptions, especially where food intake may already be inadequate,” says Jensen. “However, people who live on prudent diets all their lives are likely to have better health outcomes.” Interestingly enough, eating a sugary, fatty diet doesn’t make a difference for people in the 75+ age group as well.
“Historically people thought of older persons as tiny and frail,” says Jensen, “but that paradigm has changed for many older persons. Currently, 30 percent or more may be overweight, and by 2030, almost 30 percent are projected to be obese, not just overweight.” Jensen also revealed that overweight and mild obesity may actually benefit the people in this age group. “Recent reports even suggest that there may be survival benefits associated with overweight and mild obesity status among the elderly,” he said.
“We all know that adverse dietary patterns, such as a Western diet containing high amounts of fat or a diet containing high amounts of refined sugar, both of which may contribute to obesity, are associated with adverse medical conditions and health outcomes for many people, but until now, the health effects of these types of poor diets have not been characterized for people who live to 75 years of age and older,” says postdoctoral fellow Pao Ying Hsao. (Read the full details of the study here.)