Weight loss and exercise study needs older volunteers

University researchers are seeking overweight, older volunteers to investigate the effects of weight loss and physical training on quality of life, physical function and bone strength.

The study’s principal investigator is Dennis Villareal, M.D., assistant professor of medicine. His team is recruiting people between 65-85 who weigh at least 40 pounds more than their ideal body weight. Study volunteers cannot have diabetes or heart disease.

“Exercise and weight loss can lower the risk of obesity-related problems in younger people, but we want to learn whether it has the same protective effects in the elderly,” Villareal said. “In older people, obesity can accelerate the decline in physical function and the loss of independence associated with the aging process.”

Study volunteers will receive physical exams, blood and urine tests, an electrocardiogram and a treadmill test. They will also be asked to fill out several questionnaires to help measure quality of life, physical capabilities and limitations as well as cognitive function.

Those who qualify for the study will receive a further round of tests, including an X-ray screening that helps determine total body fat; magnetic resonance imaging to measure fat in the abdomen, thighs and liver; and tests to measure flexibility, strength, balance and exercise endurance.

The volunteers will be divided into two groups: One will be asked to continue with their normal activities and diet, and a second group will be asked to try to lose 10 percent of their body weight. The second study group will participate in a weight-loss and exercise program.

All subjects will receive medical screenings and assessments at the start of the study, after six months and again at one year.

All medical tests are free for study volunteers. For more information, call study coordinator Marian Banks at 747-2627.