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Unintentional weight loss and frailty in old age

This is an opportunity to take part in a study investigating which factors can contribute to unintentional weight loss in older people.

  • Friday 17th August 2018 12:00 (1 day)
  • Research Participant
  • Participate

The date given above is not the date of the study, appointments will be arranged between the researcher and the participant.


Most people have minor changes in body weight over a lifetime but persistent, unintentional weight loss of more than 5% if a person's weight over 6 to 12 months is usually a cause for concern. In older people, this may increase the risk of falls and disabilities, and has been linked to decreased survival in later life. Previous research has revealed that up to a quarter of older individuals experience significant weight loss without obvious causes.

The aim of this study is to gain a better understanding of what happens to eating habits, physical activity, the rate at which the body burns calories, the amount of body fat and muscle, and blood hormone levels in individuals with significant weight loss without obvious causes.

The research team plan to compare the body composition, blood hormonal profile and food preferences between healthy volunteers and older people with unintentional weight loss.

Volunteer Criteria

To take part in this study you must be female and aged 65 years and above.

The research team is looking for both healthy volunteers without weight loss and volunteers who consider themselves having significant weight loss without obvious causes.

Participants with active cancer or dementia will not be suitable for this study.

What will I be asked to do?

The study will consist of 3 visits to the Clinical Research Facility (CRF) located at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne.

Visit 1

The first visit involves blood tests and 2 health questionnaires which measure your mood and memory. This visit will last for approximately 30 minutes.

Visit 2

You will be asked to abstain from food from midnight and attend the CRF the following morning. The research team will assess the speed that your body burns calories, your body composition (the amount of body fat relative to muscle), your physical activity and muscle strength. This involves different things such as lying on a bed for a scan, doing a short timed walk, breathing into a tube to measure the gases in your breath and squeezing a pressure gauge in your hand. You will also be asking to wear a portable physical activity monitor, like a watch, on your wrist for 7 days. This visit will take approximately 2 hours.

Visit 3

You will be asking to abstain from food from midnight and attend the CRF the next morning. You will have your breakfast, lunch and evening meal at the CRF, where your calorie intake and food preference will be assessed. Blood tests will be done prior to breakfast. You will also be asking to complete 2 questionnaires, which measure quality of life. For this visit the assessment will only take 2 hours but participants are required to be in the RVI from 9am-5pm. You can leave the Clinical Research Facility but not the RVI.

Once you have registered your interest in taking part, the research team will send you a participant information sheet.

When & where?

The study will take place at the Clinical Research Facility at the RVI, Newcastle.

The research team will get in touch with you to arrange an appointment at your convenience.

Will I get anything for taking part?

Travel expenses will be reimbursed.


  • Clinical Research Facility
  • Royal Victoria Infirmary
  • Newcastle upon Tyne
  • NE1 4LP


Add a comment
  • Marjorie  DeAth
    2 days ago

    Does a one way taxi qualify as expenses...... from Gosforth?

    Earn Gan
    1 day ago

    Yes, we will refund a return taxi fare.

  • Earn Gan
    1st July 2018

    We (the research team) would like to explain why we have only requested female participants for this study. Unintentional weight loss in older people is pertinent to both females and males and our ultimate aim is to study this topic in older people irrespective of sex. However, age-related hormonal changes (especially thyroid function) are different in females and males, we would need to conduct a very large study in order to have adequate power to answer the research question in both genders. A smaller study will have insufficient power to draw a research conclusion if both females and males are included in the same study. As this is a small starter study and thyroid changes are more common in females, we have decided to first study this research question in females, with the view of extending the same study to males in the future when more funding is secured.

  • Ian Fairclough
    30th June 2018

    This is interesting - so I looked into the problem here:

    But what I can't understand is the Volunteer Criteria -To take part in this study you must be female and aged 65 years and above.

    Why are the researchers only using females when it seems to me that males have the same problems/symptoms and actions.

    Perhaps a researcher could explain the reasoning behind "only females" ?

    Earn Gan
    1st July 2018

    Hi Ian, thanks a lot for your interest in this study. I have left a comment above explaining why we have requested female participants only. It is due to the nature of hormonal changes are different in females and males, a larger study will be required if we want to study both genders in one study. Hence, females are chosen first as thyroid changes are more common in females but we would like to study this topic in males in the future, when more funding is secured.

  • Ian Armstrong
    1st June 2018

    I have just read that they are after Females ? Why ? I am a T1 diabetic since England WON the world cup & never been out of work in my life. I have had to fight nearly all my life also. Have been British National Champ 3 times on my Catamaran. I could fill this page with stuff. Thanks for reading.