Senior Fitness, Obesity and Medicaid – Weighty Issues!

April 20, 2011
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Obesity carries with it inherent health problems.

Obesity carries with it inherent health problems. Combine obesity and old age and you exacerbate age-related decline. 
A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows those over 65 should continue with diet and exercise, dispelling the belief that weight loss can cause the elderly to lose muscle and bone mass.
Study participants were randomly assigned to a control group, a weight-management (diet) group, an exercise group, or a weight-management-plus-exercise (diet-exercise) group. Exercise consisted of a 90-minute routine three times a week. A modified Physical Performance Test scored their progress.
Scores in the diet-exercise group were better across categories – peak oxygen consumption improved; body weight decreased by 9%; lean body mass and bone mineral density at the hip decreased less; strength, balance, and gait improved consistently.
Researchers suggest that a combination of weight loss and exercise provides greater improvement in physical function than either intervention alone.
So then…
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) has proposed enacting an annual $50 surcharge for obese Medicaid enrollees, a move she says would help Arizona’s financially troubled Medicaid program. If approved, the fee would be the first time a state or federally funded healthcare program for the poor fined individuals for unhealthy habits or behaviors, The Wall Street Journal reported.
So it gets back to basics – diet and exercise not one or the other. And as you will continue to find in Medicaid and other health plans, there will be rewards for healthy behavior and in some cases disincentives for unhealthy behavior. 

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