Why can’t we keep weight off as we age?

Monday, September 23rd, 2019 00:00 |
Cutting on weight at old age. Photo/Courtesy

Christine Nderitu

The answer, according to a new research by Karolinska Institute in Sweden, lies in the lipid turnover that is the capacity to store and remove lipids.

As we age, the lipid turnover in the fat tissue decreases making it easier to gain weight even if we don’t eat more or exercise less than we did in the earlier years.

The study, Adipose Lipid Turnover And Long-Term Changes In Body Weight, which took an average period of 13 years, examined 54 men and women.

All of them showed decreases in the rate at which fat cells were removed and stored (lipid turnover), regardless of whether the individuals gained or lost weight.

Those who did not adjust their diets so that they ate less calories gained weight by an average of 20 per cent.

The researchers also studied lipid turnover in 41 women who had undertaken bariatric surgery, and how the lipid turnover rate affected their ability to keep the weight off four to seven years after surgery.

From this group, they found that those with a low lipid turnover rate before the surgery managed to increase their lipid turnover and maintain their weight loss.

According to the researchers, those with a low rate before surgery could have had more room to increase the lipid turnover rate, compared to those who already had a higher rate pre-surgery. 

At a time when obesity has become an epidemic, it is important we understand this fat tissues process as a factor that affects weight gain and maintenance, independent of other factors that have been associated with weight gain and obesity.

This is however not to delink them. As studies have shown, excess body fat is associated with low lipid turnover rates while exercising has been shown to increase the lipid turnover rate.

Given, food portions and exercise regimens need to be adjusted accordingly as we age, to keep the weight away.

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