New study discovers the reason why we gain weight as we age

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Many people struggle to keep their weight in check as they get older. Swedish researchers now believe they have discovered the reason why this happens.

According to the research from the Karolinska Institute, lipid turnover in the fat tissue decreases during ageing and makes it easier to gain weight, even if we don’t eat more or exercise less than before. 

The scientists studied the fat cells in 54 men and women over an average period of 13 years. In that time, all subjects, regardless of whether they gained or lost weight, showed decreases in lipid turnover in the fat tissue, that is the rate at which lipid (or fat) in the fat cells is removed and stored.

According to the study, those who didn’t compensate for that by eating fewer calories gained weight by an average of 20 per cent.

The researchers also examined lipid turnover in 41 women who underwent bariatric surgery (gastric band surgery) and how the lipid turnover rate affected their ability to keep the weight off four to seven years after surgery. The result showed that only those who had a low rate before the surgery managed to increase their lipid turnover and maintain their weight loss.

The researchers believe these people may have had more room to increase their lipid turnover than those who already had a high-level pre-surgery.

“The results indicate for the first time that processes in our fat tissue regulate changes in body weight during ageing in a way that is independent of other factors,” explained study author Professor Peter Arner. “This could open up new ways to treat obesity.”

Previous studies have shown that one way to speed up the lipid turnover in the fat tissue is to exercise more.

This new research supports that notion and further indicates that the long-term result of weight-loss surgery would improve if combined with increased physical activity.

Have you noticed yourself gaining weight as you age? Have you had to lower your calorie intake and/or exercise more to maintain your weight as you age? Do you think this discovery could lead to better ways to treat age-related weight gain?

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Written by Ben


Total Comments: 17
  1. 0

    menopause, anti depressants etc , gained weight, 800 calories a day , dont eat this dont eat that , exercise as best i can with two types of arthritis etc , still cant lose weight

    • 0

      When you drop calories too low your body doesn’t know it is intentional and thinks it is never going to be fed again. So it tries to protect you to keep you alive. It slows the metabolism, starts shutting down unnecessary functions and hangs on to every calorie you give it. Add a sedentary lifestyle and you will gain weight even when eating very little. But I expect you don’t want to know that, or that exercise actually helps arthritis, depression and menopause!

    • 0

      That last sentence of yours KSS seems judgemental and unkind!
      Did you not read that tisme does exercise as best he/she can?

  2. 0

    90% of the older generation are on medication and in pain from a bad back and osteoarthritis, how the hell are they going to exercise!

    • 0

      I have a bad back, and osteoarthritis in both hips and my right knee.

      I force myself out the door every single day, rain hail or shine, and walk to the shops and back, about 3.8kms round trip. Some days it is hard, my back is killing me, and I can barely stand up straight, but I go regardless. Once I start walking, the pain starts to ease, and I can straighten up. As an added incentive to get out, my health insurance pays me frequent flyer points for my steps. The more steps I do, the more points I earn. Helps my mobility, and pays for travel.

      New research has now shown that exercise is way better than pain killers, and I recall reading some time ago that the UK National Health Service was starting to tell doctors to start prescribing exercise for pain relief, and stop the pills.

      Too many people are addicted to pills. Now I agree that many of us need to take some medication for various conditions, and I have to as well, eg heart. However, other than two Panadol Osteo at bedtime, I rarely take pain killers. I have discovered that they work much better the less you have them as your body doesn’t get used to them and they will work when you’re desperate for some relief.

      Feel sorry for people who stay in bed or sit in their chair all day moaning about their pain. If you won’t help yourself, then you will never get better. Simple as that. Not saying it is easy, and as I said, I struggle some days, but I make the effort and it works.

    • 0

      Research which compared walking with special exercises in a gym showed that walking was as good, if not better than the special exercises.
      I have a had a bad back for years from an injury while splitting wood and movement is the best answer to pain relief except for lying flat on your back, head on a pillow with your knees drawn up and feet flat on the floor. It works a treat. Move move move is the secret however and walking is so good for your overall health and it’s FREE.
      Remember there is no such thing as bad weather – only poor choice of clothing.

    • 0

      Research which compared walking with special exercises in a gym showed that walking was as good, if not better than the special exercises.
      I have a had a bad back for years from an injury while splitting wood and movement is the best answer to pain relief except for lying flat on your back, head on a pillow with your knees drawn up and feet flat on the floor. It works a treat. Move move move is the secret however and walking is so good for your overall health and it’s FREE.
      Remember there is no such thing as bad weather – only poor choice of clothing.

    • 0

      Yes Johninmelb and Tanker you are quite right. Exercise us actually the best medication even for arthritis. Dr Paul Lam has spent many years teaching Tai Chi to arthritis patients with enormous success. Having bad backs, arthritis depression anxiety diabetes, heart conditions and a host of other ailments is no longer the excuse for not exercising that it once was. Exercising in a natural surrounding is the best even if that is the local park or once round the oval. But in wet weather the local shopping centre is dry and offers stairs as well! The hard part is putting the shoes on and doing up the laces. Use it or lose it is right.

  3. 0

    Yes, I put it down to living the good life.

    As we got older our diet and drinking habits changed, plus less stress and responsibility. We have to walk twice a day plus cycle weekly just to keep from gaining any more weight. We are happy to do this because we like our lifestyle, we enjoy socialising and eating out more with friends and family.

  4. 0

    Same here with degenerative spinal osteoarthritis and other problems with back – do Tai Chi, walking, other exercises, chiropractic and myotherapist treatment. and the pain still returns with a vengeance at times despite this but always simmering in the background. Try exercising in the middle of a very painful back spasm – it is hard to even stand up sometimes and as for sitting down, well you have to get up again. Seems that I don’t have the luxury of sitting as much as other people do – sitting is bad for back! It is enough just to try to meditate the pain away sometimes and keep going. Tried cutting down on eating but with no result. Think hormones have a lot to do with it. Doctor says my condition is inoperable so I just try to keep going.

  5. 0

    got to die from something

  6. 0

    Too much food for doing little is the real reason.

  7. 0

    I am in agreement with the benefits of walking to ease skeletal pain. Every morning I get up with sciatica, back pain, and joint stiffness, and every day after moving all joints and walking as much as circumstances allow (I am carer for my disabled husband) I find the aches and pains significantly diminished. I also take Panadol Osteo at night only, no other analgesics. I have radiologically proven osteoarthritis.

    • 0

      Also, I restrict the amounts and kinds of foods I eat, and have managed to keep my weight down to the level it was when I was young. Still have the occasional treat though!

  8. 0

    Our ancient house has 50 stairs. So if I go to the third floor and down to the garden, that’s 100 steps. Good for muscles, heart, lungs. I try to go for a walk every day. Take half a panadol or ibuprofen if feeling very stiff after gardening. I find half a pill as effective as a whole one. I can lose weight easily just by eating less but the bakeries and cake shops where I live are extremely temping. Sigh.

  9. 0

    I do not even have to go out to do my walking exercise. Arthritis in my right hip plagues me first thing in the morning but 2 Panadol carry me through the day. A total of 1.5 km is achieved every day by walking from one end of my lounge room to the other, headphone in place, listening to my favorite music. The advantage is I can do this any time of the day. My weight is stable at around 54 -55 kg (I am only 5-foot 1), eat anything but with moderation.

  10. 0

    So what causes the lipid turnover?
    Quite simple really just eat more low calorie foods and less high calorie, many processed packaged food is full of high calories, eat fresh wholefoods and you will eat less because you will feel more full, must include some raw green leafy greens for enzymes too. As you age your liver does not work as well either so important to give it a little help with low fat and no alcohol.



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