Why people gain weight as they age

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

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