The global prevalence of obesity in the older adult population is growing, an increasing concern in both the developed and developing countries of the world. The study of geriatric obesity and its management is a relatively new area of research, especially pertaining to those with elevated health risks. This review characterizes the state of science for this “fat and frail” population and identifies the many gaps in knowledge where future study is urgently needed. In community dwelling older adults, opportunities to improve both body weight and nutritional status are hampered by inadequate programs to identify and treat obesity, but where support programs exist, there are proven benefits. Nutritional status of the hospitalized older adult should be optimized to overcome the stressors of chronic disease, acute illness, and/or surgery. The least restrictive diets tailored to individual preferences while meeting each patient’s nutritional needs will facilitate the energy required for mobility, respiratory sufficiency, immunocompentence, and wound healing. Complications of care due to obesity in the nursing home setting, especially in those with advanced physical and mental disabilities, are becoming more ubiquitous; in almost all of these situations, weight stability is advocated, as some evidence links weight loss with increased mortality. High quality interdisciplinary studies in a variety of settings are needed to identify standards of care and effective treatments for the most vulnerable obese older adults.
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