Science 2 min read

Study Reveals Why People Gain Weight As They Grow Older

Swedish researchers discovered that people tend to gain weight as they aged because the body's lipid turnover rate decreases as well.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Maintaining a certain body weight can be relatively easy when we’re young. But as we grow older, we begin to struggle to keep the weight in check.

Now, the researchers at Karolinska Institute in Sweden have uncovered the reason.

According to the researchers, lipid turnover in fat tissue decreases as we age. And, this makes it easier to gain weight, even if we eat less than we used.

Lipid Turnover Rate in Fat Cells

For the study, the researchers examined the fat cells of 54 men and women for 13 years. Within this period, the participants showed decreases in turnover in the fat tissues, regardless of whether they gained or lost weight.

In other words, their body did not remove as much lipid or fat in the fat cells as it used to. As a result, participants who didn’t account for these reduced turnovers by eating fewer calories gained weight.

The Karolinska Institute team also studied lipid turnover in 41 women who had undergone bariatric surgery – a procedure that involves making changes to the digestive system to help with weight loss.

The researchers wanted to understand how the lipid turnover rate influenced their ability to keep the weight off four to seven years after the surgery.

It turned out that only the participants with low rate before the surgery were able to increase their lipid turnover, and as such, maintain their weight loss. Those with a high lipid turnover rate, on the other hand, had no such luck.

So, what do these all mean?

Exercise More to Maintain Weight Loss

Previous studies already suggest that more exercise can speed up lipid turnover in the fat tissue. The Karolinska Institute further supports the notion that weight-loss surgeries have a better long-term result when combined with increased physical activity.

One of the principal authors of the study and professor at the department of medicine in Huddinge at Karolinska Institutet, Peter Arner said:

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

The researchers published their findings in the journal Nature Medicine.

Read More: New Study Suggests Brown Fat May Be Good For Our Health

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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