Losing weight after the age of 50 years


There are many reasons why people are not able to lose weight on a normal day. There are even more reasons why it becomes so much more difficult to do so after the age of 50 years. In many cases, there are very little differences in terms of gender but it is important to acknowledge that there are indeed some difficulties a person may encounter on the way to getting some weight loss. Some of these reasons are dependent on certain health conditions people acquire as they age or it may be due to certain medications that they are compelled to use in treating their condition. In addition, the rate of food breakdown, called metabolism, slows down as age increases. As a result, it becomes easier to gain weight and very difficult to lose or maintain it. It also becomes harder to stay with a reduced weight once the former status has been shed. In the essay today, we shall be looking at some of the reasons why such opposing features happen and how an aging individual can maintain a healthy weight or maintain a certain weight that has been shed.

One of the most difficult things for people to get enough of in the modern age is sleep. The advent of the computer, the mobile phone, electronic games and the Internet have turned a lot of people into sedentary adults who do everything where they are seated. It is so bad in some people that to even get up at intervals and use the toilet could become a major headache. In the interim, they are likely to have gained a prodigious amount of weight by just behaving like that. This is not affluence but quite a dangerous way to live. It is perfect for weight gain and also a cooperative set of circumstances to maintain the extra weight that has been gained. Many studies have stated clearly that there is a link between a short duration of sleep and an increased risk of developing an obese frame. Poor quality sleep is, therefore, an important contributor to developing extra kilogrammes. Closely related to a sedentary life is the need to move, to be constantly on the go so that you end up burning more calories than are gained. Jobs that make you static, like an office worker, a driver or a teller, is such that would involve lots of sitting down and promote weight gain.

As part of the moving culture, it helps a lot to walk to most parts of Lagos Island, for example, rather than drive a car or hop on a motorcycle. Right now, it is an ordeal to actually drive around the island and in the future, it is entirely possible that vehicles would be banned entirely in the central business district in order to make it more environmentally friendly. People may as well start on their own now and learn to keep some muscle bulk on their body frame as they do so. In the end, even the chore of climbing some of the high-rise buildings around the country should encourage people to use the staircase rather than the lift. Once on the street, do not insist that your cab drops you off literally at the front door of your house. If we consign bus stops to what they really are, which is to act as collecting points for passengers, then everyone will be compelled to walk to the one nearest to their homes. In a great many cities, such stops are a minimum of five minutes of brisk walking from the house or as much as 12 to 15 minutes if it is a train station. The average Nigerian will curse the living daylights of the driver who fails to drop them at their gates. It harms you, the passenger, and it harms the driver who sits on the same chair for many hours.

It is important to hitch up to a friend in the neighbourhood who shares the same goals as you do so as to form a partnership in deciding what exercises to partake in and where and also for how long. One person exercising or working out can seem like a punishment after a while. When you have a sparring partner, if you like, it is so much more fun. That way, you can develop a healthy dose of competition between both of you such that if you appreciate some weight loss in your colleague, that should encourage you to do more. In this regard, it becomes easier to set realistic goals for such an achievement. It pays to overcome it a little at a time rather than seek a crash course that soon gets to be reversed. If the goals that have been set are too ambitious, it becomes easier to default when discouragement sets in. When the targets are more modest, it becomes fun to chip away from it a little at a time. One of the most beneficial sports for people of all ages is swimming. If you have not learnt to swim at a younger age, it will be probably too tough to take on it after the age of 50 years but other beneficial sports like cycling or tennis could be substituted.

Any over 50-year-old man or woman who desires to cut down on their weight should avoid snacks that contain sugar or are sugary in taste. They should forgo hamburgers and shawarma. They should forgo meat-pies and cakes and instead snack on nuts of every possible type. There are groundnuts in our land in huge proportions as well as tiger nuts. There is walnut and there is cashew nut. For the well-healed who shop in the malls and department stores, you will also get almonds and pistachio. It is of benefit to swing protein away from red meat towards fish, boiled eggs and the white meat of chicken and rabbits. It pays also to eat more beans and the derivatives of beans like moin-moin and akara as well as beans soup. It is healthy to eat vegetables with most of our food and to take fruits, not fruit juice. All this is because the intake of nuts and vegetables on a regular basis does not adversely affect a person’s weight, whereas eating sugary snacks does so. The nature of the food that is eaten is also of particular importance when considering weight control strategies. Whole grain foods are found to be superior to the intake of processed foods. The latter are typically canned and preserved with chemicals and oils with a high sodium content.

It is also a smart thing to do to use electronic gadgets of various types to gauge how much work you are doing. There are apps these days which you can even install in your smart phone that tell you at a glance how many calories you burned on a particular day by simply walking so many number of steps. The same goes for cycling or jogging. The latter is a high impact form of exercise for a middle-aged person and could prove harmful to any individual who suddenly picks it up. Some other people would rather obtain such services from a dedicated smart watch which is more handy and can equally be put to such important use, being that you simply strap it on your wrist the same way you would normally wear your regular watch. In this way, it is more than easy to monitor and check up on goals. It is hugely therapeutic to realise how much control you retain over your exercise routine and you would be absolutely glad to see results. In the end, a regular dose of such uncomplicated exercises becomes more beneficial than the exercises which are done in an erratic manner with no semblance of planning.

Finally, do not skip meals. Food should be eaten at regular times on a daily basis and it is absolutely important to take breakfast. Some researchers say, and nutritionists agree, that breakfast is perhaps the most important meal of any day and it is in the interest of any middle-aged person seeking to keep a healthy weight to not miss it. And so in brief, it is important to keep all the above commandments in order to maintain a moderate weight at any age, but more importantly for us, to do so well into the middle age.

Questions and answers

Hello, Doctor, I’m an avid reader of your column and thank you so much for your good works. I’m reaching out to you because of my fiancé. For over six months now he has been battling with serious itching of his penis and we also noticed small pimples on his penis, though we don’t know if they’re pimples. He has been to the pharmacy to complain and he was given antibiotics but still the itching is very serious. What could be the problem, doctor? And what can we buy to cure it, as our wedding is fast approaching? Thank you.               

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Thank you very much for your kind words. A problem like this would be due to the skin of the penis getting infected with an organism which could be a virus or a yeast. Common yeast infections give rise to fungal infections, which are likely to be readily curable when you deploy creams like Clotrimazole to it or better still Ketoconazole. But you mentioned that there are pimples or lesions that look like pimples and this complicates the picture painted above a bit. When there are rashes like that, you probably have a viral infection caused by organisms like Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) or Herpes Simplex Virus 1 or 2 (HSV). It would be better for you to see a venereal diseases expert or a dermatologist for the proper diagnosis and treatment. The pharmacy is not the place to go to for this kind of problem and you ought to start, at least, with a doctor.

Hi, Doctor. I’m taking 8 x 50mg of tramadol plus 8 x 500mg paracetamol daily to relieve my osteoarthritis and severe sciatica pain. I am still in pain and get dizziness with migraine headaches. What would you recommend me to do? The bone and muscle pain are unbearable. Please advise me. Thank you.           [email protected]   

You will have rebound headaches and dizziness with the amount of tramadol you are consuming. You are telling us here that you routinely take 400mg of tramadol on a daily basis as well as 4gm (4,000mg) of paracetamol. These clearly are excessive doses and you can only sustain both liver and kidney damage over a few months, not to mention the added problem of developing an addiction to tramadol. The most cheering part for the kind of things you are treating is that there are far more effective medications for the management of your condition, the prescription for  which you can obtain from your doctor.

Good morning,  Dr. Sylvester. I have a hole in my tooth and I went to see the dentists who examined me and gave me some paracetamol and antibiotics after getting a two-month appointment. The pain still comes once in a while and it is not comfortable at all, especially when I want to sleep. A friend of mine then came along to my house and said I could actually treat it with urine and my thought was how true could such an assertion be and that one would end up swallowing some of the urine. Kindly shed some light on this, sir. Thank you.                                           [email protected]

Good morning, sir. Once you have a hole in your tooth and it becomes painful, it just means that the tooth has decayed to the level of the nerve-rich pulp of the tooth. So when you go to the dentists, they will examine you and take X-rays of the affected tooth and you will be offered a variety of treatments, depending on how bad the tooth is. It may be so bad that an extraction is offered you right away. It may be possible to patch it up and you could be offered a root canal treatment if it is infected or you have the hole filled up with a composite material.

 The rationale for using urine beats me and it is important to remember that this is a waste product. Of course, there have been practitioners of urine therapy among our people in the past but it makes no sense. In the final analysis, even the resort to that is deeply baffling because it is far more hygienic to make a cleaner solution yourself by adding salt to warm water and achieving a more effective cleaning solution. This is a temporary solution and together with antibiotics, they should help to control bacteria in the cavity.

Good day, sir. Thank you for the regular weekly medical enlightenment, particularly for the masses. I am a 16-year-old girl. I suddenly saw a little, dry swelling in my left palm a few weeks ago. Although it is not painful unless I hit it against something, sir, I need your advice or what to use for it. May the divine protection of God be upon you and your family abundantly in Jesus name.                                                  081XXXXXX42

 Thank you very much for your kind words and your prayers. You sound wiser than your age but I say amen to your prayers. The photograph you sent shows a lesion that is most likely to be a corn because of its location over the joint between the small bones of the hand and the digit. It has probably been developing over some time but you did not notice it. If it is not a corn, which often develops due to repeated friction over that spot, it would be because a foreign body is lodged inside that part of your palm. It could be a piece of wood or glass or a piece of metal and so an X-ray of the hand will demonstrate what it might be. It should then be removed by a doctor through a minor operation under local anaesthesia.

Dear Doctor, kudos for the beautiful information you are helping the society with. Many Nigerians read this newspaper because of your educative column. I cannot have sex for more than five minutes. Why? And my penis is too short and small. How can I enlarge my penis? Please let me know and I am going to buy the newspaper on Sunday, 27/3/2022. So, please tell me what to do sir. Thanks.            091XXXXXX51

Thank you very much for your supportive comments and thank you for keeping a date with The Sunday PUNCH every Sunday. The period in which a male and a female are actively engaged in penetrative sex ranges from about 33 seconds to 44 minutes. The average time among all categories of couples surveyed was 5.4 minutes, which is very close to the figure you gave us here. Normally, if sex lasts for less than 3 minutes in a man, it warrants an investigation. But we have no knowledge of your age or whether you nurse any disease condition or are on any medications. However, in order to address your concerns about the size of your penis and its prospects for enlargement, it is important for you to see a urologist for examination and advice.

Good evening, dear Dr Sylvester. How is the home and work? Thanks for your piece in the Sunday PUNCH. Please what is the difference between macular degeneration and macular hole? Does macular hole have a cure and how, unlike the macular degeneration, that you stated has no cure? God bless.

This  is interesting on the whole. A macular hole is a break in the macula which is found in the centre of the retina, the structure at the back of the eyeball that is sensitive to light and enables us to see. When it develops, the kind of precise vision you need to do fine things, like reading and writing, will be lost and is replaced by a blurred vision. If the signs are not recognised, it could cause the retina to detach and the vision will be lost completely. Detached retina is a medical emergency.  Macular degeneration, on the other hand, is mostly related to advancing age and is common after the age of 50 years. The macula becomes thin and causes blurred vision as a result. This symptom is similar to what is often seen with macular hole but this condition has no treatment, whereas macular hole is treatable through an emergency operation.


If a doctor does an abortion, who will take the blame? The doctor or the woman or both of them? 42 million abortions were recorded last year, 2021. Horrible!


Well, thank you very much for your comments. Abortion has several different types and we did justice to that topic on this page about two years ago. Certain types of abortion, like those which women seek as a form of birth control is not legal in many countries. However, there are many therapeutic abortions being performed by doctors for a wide variety of reasons ranging from a threat to the mother’s health, rape, incest and defects identified in a baby that are not compatible with life. There should be no problem or blame arising from these.

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