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  • Do Old People Gain Weight Easier?

Do Old People Gain Weight Easier?

Oct 19 2019 Read 430 Times

For many people, experiencing weight gain as the body ages is natural. Now, a new study from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden has uncovered the mechanics behind the trend, with researchers citing a decrease in lipid turnover in fat tissue as one of the major causes.

The research was published in the journal Nature Medicine and explains how the team analysed fat cells in more than 50 men and women over an average period of 13 years. They noted that over time, all participants experienced decreases in lipid turnover in fat tissue, a process that determines the rate at which lipid in fat cells is removed and stored within the body. As a result, individuals who didn't reduce their calorie intake or increase exercise gained an average 20% of their body weight.

"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," explains Peter Arner, co-author of the study and professor at the Department of Medicine in Huddinge at Karolinska Institutet. "This could open up new ways to treat obesity."

New insight into tackling global obesity crisis

For Kirsty Spalding, senior researcher at the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology at Karolinska Institutet and co-author of the study, the results offer valuable insight into the mechanics of obesity and how to tackle the worldwide crisis. She stresses that while a decrease in lipid turnover in fat tissue cannot be avoided, people can prevent weight gain by limiting calorie intake and increasing physical activity.

"Obesity and obesity-related diseases have become a global problem," she says. "Understanding lipid dynamics and what regulates the size of the fat mass in humans has never been more relevant."

Grave concerns from WHO and NHS

The World Health Organisation warns global obesity rates have tripled since 1975, with an estimated 1.9 billion adults classed as overweight in 2016. Of these, 650 fell into the obese category. The UK is one of the worst offenders, with around one in four adults recording a body mass index of 25 or above. The NHS warns that by 2030, obesity could result in 360,000 diagnoses of weight-related cancers.

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