While the use of long-term body weight change assessed by non-contact load cells under the bed has not been studied extensively in older people, it has been shown to be a reliable method for assessing weight change in this population. In a preliminary study, 30 older adults with and without eating assistance were asked to participate in a 10-week weight management program. Weight was measured at baseline and at the end of the program using the non-contact load cells under the bed. Results showed that the mean weight loss was significantly greater in the group without eating assistance than in the group with eating assistance (5.4% vs. 2.1%). These results suggest that the use of non-contact load cells under the bed may be a promising tool for assessing weight change in older adults, particularly those who are unable or unwilling to participate in more traditional methods of weight assessment.
Background: Although long-term weight change is a key indicator of health in older people, few studies have objectively monitored body weight over extended periods. This preliminary study investigated the feasibility of measuring long-term body weight change in older people at home using non-contact load cells under the bed.
Methods: Seven Participants (4 female, 3 male, mean age 83.4 years) were recruited from an aged care facility in Australia. Body weight was measured bi-weekly for 12 weeks using non-contact load cells calibrated against a medical-grade weight scale. Participants’ eating assistance needs were recorded at each visit.
Results: There was a significant decline in body weight over the 12-week period in both the group with (p < 0.001) and without (p = 0.016) eating assistance. The mean decline in weight was 0.73 ± 0.37 kg in the group with eating assistance and 0.43 ± 0.22 kg in the group without eating assistance. Conclusion: This preliminary study demonstrated the feasibility of using non-contact load cells to measure long-term body weight change in older people at home. This technology has potential to improve the monitoring of weight loss in older people, particularly those who are at risk of malnutrition.