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www.ProHealth.com • May 15, 2003


A decade long study of the elderly indicated that calorie intake per killigram of body weight showed no cross-sectional association with age in men, suggesting that current weight, rather than age, determined energy intake. Intake of protein, as well as fat, carbohydrate and cholesterol, decreased slightly but not significantly with age. The results in women were similar. Over the nine years of the study, there were significant decreases in a number of dietary nutrients. However, these changes were offset by reductions in physical activity and/or changes in body composition.

The lower energy intake didn't result in changes in weight. The decrease in total fat and cholesterol intake correlated with a fall in plasma cholesterol levels. The study suggests that changes in lifestyle over time, rather than age per se, resulted in the dietary changes observed in this healthy elderly population.

Thus, as you age, you need fewer calories, but exactly how much you should eat still depends on how active you are. Because you're eating less food to maintain a healthy weight, you have to be more careful about choosing low-fat and nutrient-rich foods. As the years pass and you lose lean body mass (muscle), your metabolic rate slows down and you burn calories more slowly. Exercise is the best way to maintain lean body mass and speed up your metabolic rate.

(Source: Intelihealth website)



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