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Dr. John A. Batsis
John Batsis, MD

Among older adults, losing weight can be a life-changing choice. In some cases, weight loss can help extend a person’s lifespan by reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. These are two conditions which affect older adults in greater proportion than younger people.

Although GLP-1 drugs like Ozempic were created to treat type 2 diabetes and help regulate blood sugar, they can also curb appetite and slow the movement of food through the gut. In turn people may feel full faster leading to weight loss. However, these drugs also come with risks. According to Dr. John Batsis, weight loss may due to lost muscle and bone mass.

As an American Board of Obesity Medicine (ABOM) diplomate, In his practice and research Dr. Batsis focuses on obesity and physical function in older adults. He is also a big proponent of healthy weight loss and work to understand the relationships between obesity and sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass, strength and function with aging).

“Both muscle mass and strength impact muscle quality, which is key to ensuring individuals can conduct their daily activities,” he says. “Losing muscle mass and strength can lead to sarcopenia, which increases the risk for functional decline, disability, nursing home placement, and death.”

Previously, Dr. John Batsis has called these drugs promising. But he also says that more data on how drugs like Ozempic affect older adults is necessary. People lose muscle as they age. Bu as Dr. Batsis says, “if they’re losing weight on top of that without doing resistance exercises, there’s a risk they’re more vulnerable to stressors and have difficulty carrying out daily activities.”

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