I’ve been saying this for years.

Okay.  A study looks at how when older women diet and they regain the weight (as we know they are going to do), what is it that they are losing and what is it that they are regaining.  And the answer is:

Specifically, for every 1 kg fat lost during the weight-loss intervention, 0.26 kg lean tissue was lost; for every 1 kg fat regained over the following year, only 0.12 kg lean tissue was regained.

Get it?  You lose fat and lean tissue.  When you regain, you end up literally fatter and with less lean tissue, even if you don’t weigh more than when you started the diet.  (And they don’t even get into the fact that fat cells are forever – unlike lean tissue cells, fat cells do not go away – they simply “deflate”, unless you physically remove them – and even then, there is evidence that your body will create more fat cells to replace those your removed.).

And while there are a lot of new studies out there talking about the protective nature of fat as we get older, loss of muscle and bone is detrimental, especially to older people.

Now want to go crazy? Here is what the lead author of the study had to say about weight loss for older women:

“But despite the great likelihood that people will gain it back and the suggestion that it will have an unfavorable impact on their lean-tissue-to-fat composition, ‘I think there are huge benefits to losing weight,’ she says. When older obese people deliberately slim down, their osteoarthritis improves, Nicklas says. They can get up out of chairs and climb stairs more easily. Even if they eventually regain all of the weight, she says, it usually takes a few years to do it.”

Except the study showed that 80% of the women had regained the weight within one year!  And I’m pretty sure in order to get out of chairs and climb stairs you need muscle (i.e. lean tissue).

So this doctor ADMITS that dieting will ultimately have an unfavorable impact on most of her patients, and yet she is still pushing for dieting.  Talk about drinking the Koolaid.




  1. There are older obese people? Who knew? Weren’t we all supposed to die at [current age + 5] years?

    By the way, is the loss of lean tissue a result of any kind of weight loss? Suppose you lose weight because you’ve been sick, or because you’ve gotten off anti-depressants or something. Does the lean tissue still go bye-bye?

  2. Is it koolaid though? Someone summed it up recently. If the intent of an action is not the outcome of that action and that doesn’t matter, then the outcome is the real intent.

    As I keep saying, this is an ‘obesity’ crusade, not an anti ‘obesity’ crusade.

  3. If mobility is the issue… have they considered strength training instead of diet? Read “Strong Women Stay Young.”

    DH is an athlete — he repeatedly tells me you CANNOT calorie restrict and train. (Not that I do the intentional calorie restriction thing anyway.)

  4. Yes, you do seem to lose muscle mass with any kind of weight loss, whatever the reason. I have cerebral palsy & arthritis, I am still walking around under my own power, & I make sure to stay active & keep myself well-nourished so that I can be as mobile & independent as possible for as long as possible. Starving myself would put me into a wheelchair faster than carrying my weight will. Besides, as so many people mention, strength training is supposed to be good for us. We fat people lift weights every day. Yes, weight training can help mobility, so can, for those of us with joint issues, using a glucosamine/chondroitin sypplement of some kind. There are always ways of coping with health issues & challenges which do not involve weight loss.

    Not only is more of the regained weight fat, but weight loss in & of itself is harmful to health & becomes moreso as we age, so that, by the time one reaches my age, weight loss increases mortality risks by several hundred percent.

    I had a fat mother who lived to be 85, a fat grandmother who lived to be 90, a fat uncle who lived to be 94, & so on throughout my mother’s side of the family. I currently have a very fat (5’11’, 250-270 pounds for many years, fat since birth) brother who does not exercise, nor does he worry about ‘healthy eating’, & he drinks too much; he will be 73 in March. Another very fat brother died a year ago of kidney failure a few weeks before he turned 74; the kidney disease is hereditary from our mother, who had one kidney for over 40 years; her father & grandfather, neither of whom was fat, died of kidney disease.

    I just love it when some idiot says something about ‘you never see any old fat people’. Well, not if you never look at/for them & a great number of young people never look at old people, just as so many never really look at disabled people. Also, very old people tend to shrink a bit, so many people who have been fat all their lives may be a bit less so if they are very old. & sometimes maybe some people don’t see our fat so easily once it is buried under wrinkles. Pattie Thomas had a grandfather who died at 99 weighing 300 pounds. A lady who recently commented on another blog about getting that ‘you never see any old fat people’ BS from a doctor who wanted her to diet told him that she saw them every day, especially her father, who is in his 80’s & weighs over 300 pounds. There are plenty of old fat people, more fat old people than thin ones probably since there are a lot more fat people than thin ones & part of aging is weight gain, at least in the early senior years. It is just very inconvenient to admit this fact to people whom you are bullying & generally abusing for being fat while trying to convince them that you are doing it ‘for your health.’ For my health, my ass! For the benefit of all those who profit greatly from fat hatred & maybe for your comfort if you don’t like looking at fat people.

  5. Minor brother died a few weeks before he turned 75, he was 74. A third brother is nearly 80. Lord, I am getting old! 🙂

  6. Just curious – any idea if exercise or strength training makes a difference? The stats you have there are kind of scary. I’m not planning to diet, but in addition to being fat, I have nice, strong, shapely muscles. I’d be afraid to “waste away” if I were to lose weight at some point.

  7. It is hard to be absolute about anything, but regular, moderate exercise does seem to be beneficial to the health of people of all sizes. There is some debate about the actual benefits…some claim that those of us who are active live 2.5 years longer, others point out that it is difficult to know for sure since each of us lives only one life & cannot go back & do it over the other way, still others point out that, if we DO live 2.5 years longer, we spend those years exercising. However, exercise does improve muscle tone & strength, it seems to slow down the muscle loss which accompanies aging, most people who exercise seem to feel better, have more energy, etc. From my own personal experience as a disabled person who has exercised all my life, I can tell you that exercise has kept me mobile & independent longer. I have always been very healthy, spent very little time with doctors or in hospitals, etc., but that may be as much genes as the exercise, I am not sure. As I wrote in my post above, I am from a family of tough, long-lived people & I am the only regular exerciser among them, aside from my oldest brother.

    After 62 years of experience & observation, my own belief is that some exercise is good for our health & likely not harmful unless we exercise compulsively (as I have at times in the past) or cause ourselves an injury with improperly done or excessive exercise. Our bodies do like to seem to move. It is, however, not a moral issue, & some perfectly good worthy people do not exercise. Life being the crapshoot it is, some of those people, such as my mother & nana, also live to be old. Unfortunately, some who exercise a lot, including more than a few thin & very fit individuals, die young. I guess we just do what we think is right for us & hope for the best. Our bodies are not warranteed to last a set number of years & no behaviors guarantee immortality or perfect health.

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