While the prevalence of obesity has risen dramatically across all age groups over the years, older adults deal with more serious consequences due to the condition. An unhealthy diet is one of the leading causes of cardiovascular diseases. As you age, obesity can also increase your risk of chronic conditions, disability, and mental health disorders. 

In this guide, we’ll help you understand how Medicare can cover obesity-related preventive screenings and other services so you can live your healthiest life. 

Key takeaways:

  • Obesity is much more common in older adults than it used to be, and it continues to be on the rise.

  • Obesity can negatively impact older adults by increasing the risk of chronic conditions, disabilities, and mental health disorders.

  • Medicare has comprehensive coverage for obesity-related preventive screenings and treatment. 

Facts on obesity in older adults

Obesity rates have steadily trended upwards in older adults over the years. Between 1988-1994, 22% of Americans aged 65 and older were considered obese. That number has nearly doubled in the past few decades with over 42.8% of older adults currently managing obesity.  

When you’re younger, obesity-related conditions can be easier to manage since they’re often less serious and your body responds more readily to prevention and management. Obesity can cause heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and certain types of cancer, all of which older adults have a higher risk of developing regardless. 

Factors contributing to the rise in obesity rates among older adults

Given that dietary habits and lifestyles have changed, it’s not surprising that obesity is more prevalent now than it has been in the past. In general, technology has resulted in people leading a more sedentary way of life. With increased Internet accessibility and reliance, more people spend time sitting or lying down. 

There’s also a socioeconomic relationship between eating a poorly balanced diet and obesity rates. People with lower incomes are more likely to eat processed foods high in sugar, fat, and sodium because they tend to be cheaper than healthier, unprocessed foods. 

Retirees may also spend less time maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle for various other reasons including:

  • Chronic pain and mobility issues that make it more difficult to move

  • Difficulty cooking due to physical limitations or preference for cheaper, unhealthy meals

  • Shifting lifestyle and perceptions in retirement 

Fortunately, your Medicare coverage can help you promote a healthy lifestyle, prevent serious conditions through early intervention, and manage obesity. 

Strategies for preventing and managing obesity in older adults (and how Medicare can help)

Seniors with obesity and obesity-related conditions can use their Medicare plan to seek care. Medicare covers numerous tests, counseling sessions, prescription drugs, and treatments, which we go into in detail below. 

Preventive screenings

Medicare covers a number of preventive screenings, including cardiovascular disease screenings, diabetes screenings, and depression screenings. Some tests are covered only if you meet certain eligibility requirements. Medicare covers blood tests for cardiovascular disease once every five years and diabetes and depression screenings once per year.

Your Welcome to Medicare and Annual Wellness visits are two services you can use to check in with your healthcare provider about any concerns you may have about your weight and obesity. Together, you and your doctor can create a plan to prevent and manage conditions. 


You can receive Medicare coverage for counseling once you meet certain criteria. 

For nutritional counseling, Medicare covers the service if your doctor recommends it and you have diabetes or a kidney-related condition. 

For weight-loss counseling, Medicare covers behavioral therapy sessions if you have a BMI of 30 or more. If you’re at risk for cardiovascular disease, Medicare also covers behavioral therapy for lifestyle changes.

Weight loss surgery

In some cases, Medicare covers weight loss surgery, like gastric bypass surgery and laparoscopic banding surgery. However, eligibility criteria can be pretty strict. Beneficiaries must have a BMI of more than 35, have an obesity-related condition, have tried other weight loss strategies, and show a commitment to lifestyle changes.

Prescription drugs

Medicare Part D covers prescription drugs like Wegovy to prevent strokes and manage heart disease. Make sure that you enroll in a plan that includes coverage for the medications you need. Our licensed Medicare Advisors can help you find a plan or to switch to a plan with more comprehensive coverage. 

Managing chronic conditions

If you’re managing a chronic condition like diabetes or heart disease, Medicare covers doctor visits, procedures, and medical devices and supplies. 

Mental health

Medicare covers many mental health services, including therapy, depression screenings, and prescription drugs. 

Fitness memberships 

Some Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare Supplement plans can come with free or low-cost fitness memberships like SilverSneakers, Silver&Fit, or Renew Active

Making the most out of your Medicare

Obesity is a condition that many older adults struggle with. Your Medicare coverage can help you take the right preventive measures to manage obesity. If you ever need help making the most out of your Medicare coverage or finding a plan with better coverage for your needs, call a Chapter Medicare Advisor at 855-900-2427 or schedule a time to chat.

Get Medicare, Maximized