Perceptions of Weight Loss in Older Adults Following a 6-Month Weight Loss Program: A Qualitative Research Study

Published:November 18, 2021DOI:



      Obesity in older adults contributes to increasing comorbidities and decreased quality of life. There is limited research that includes older adults’ perspectives on weight loss.


      The purpose of this qualitative study was to gain a better understanding of older adults’ perceptions and experiences related to weight loss immediately after a 6-month weight loss intervention.


      A qualitative research design using semi-structured interviews conducted as part of a larger research study exploring weight loss and/or aerobic exercise on muscle inflammation.


      A sample of community-based older adults (n = 11) in Southwestern Ohio were recruited from September 2018 through August 2019 after completion of a 6-month weight loss intervention. Eligible participants were older than 58 years, with a body mass index (calculated as kg/m2) >27, and sedentary with no cognitive deficits. Exclusions included cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and tobacco use.


      Interviews were recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed using thematic analysis. Descriptive statistics were used for demographic data.


      Three emergent themes included barriers and challenges to weight loss, which included caregiving roles, challenges with increasing protein intake, and ambivalence to change; personal strategies for success (eg, portion control and meal flexibility); and external strategies for success (eg, visual graphs as feedback measures, alternate measures of success, and social support).


      The results of this qualitative study provide insight into older adults’ experiences with weight loss, which may be considered when designing weight management interventions. However, more research is needed to examine strategies to address the challenges identified by participants in this research study. Future qualitative research should also focus on weight loss perspectives of older adults in other racial and ethnic groups.


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      M. E. Miller is an associate professor, Miami University, Oxford, OH.


      K. Newton is a clinical dietitian, Kettering Health Network, Dayton, OH; at the time of the study, she was a graduate student, Miami University, Oxford, OH.


      A. Bailey is an undergraduate dietetics student, Miami University, Oxford, OH.


      C. Monnier is a graduate student and dietetic intern, Abilene Christian University, Abilene, TX; at the time of the study, she was an undergraduate student, Abilene Christian University, Abilene, TX.


      I. Hoersten is a dietetic intern at Andrews University, Berrien Springs, MI; at the time of the study, she was an undergraduate student, Miami University, Oxford, OH.


      I. Puthoff is a graduate student and dietetic intern, Miami University, Oxford, OH; at the time of the study, she was an undergraduate student, Miami University, Oxford, OH.


      A. Klinker is a graduate student and dietetic intern, University of Georgia, Athens, GA; at the time of the study, she was an undergraduate student, Miami University, Oxford, OH.


      K. L. Timmerman is an associate professor, Miami University, Oxford, OH.