Scientist reveal why people gain weight with age

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Scientists have discovered why so many people struggle to keep their weight in check as they get older.

woman standing on scales

Why people gain weight with age

New research has uncovered that lipid turnover in fat tissue decreases during aging and makes it easier to gain weight.

The study, published in the journal Nature Medicine, found that lipid turnover in the fat tissue decreased — the rate at which lipid or fat in the fat cells is removed.

What are Lipids?

Lipids in your body are essential for proper digestion and absorption of food and nutrients. Bile acids produced from lipids in your liver allow fat and water to mix in your intestines and aid in the breakdown and absorption of food.

  • Saturated fat is a lipid that exists as a solid substance when it is at room temperature.
  • Unsaturated fat is a lipid that exists as a liquid when it is at room temperature.
  • Monounsaturated fat is found in olive, peanut, canola, and other vegetable oils.
  • Trans fat is a lipid that has undergone a process called hydrogenation.

The researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden studied the fat cells in 54 men and women over an average period of 13 years.

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.

Those who didn’t compensate for that by eating less calories gained weight by an average of 20 percent, according to the study which was done in collaboration with researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden and University of Lyon in France.

“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,” said Peter Arner, a professor at the Karolinska Institutet.

“This could open up new ways to treat obesity,” Arner said.

“Understanding lipid dynamics and what regulates the size of the fat mass in humans has never been more relevant.” 

Prior 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.

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