Most of us know that as we age, keeping the weight off can feel a lot harder. Turns out, there’s a scientific reason for this.
Researchers from Sweden discovered that “lipid turnover” decreases during ageing. This refers to the rate at which the lipid (or fatty acids) in the fat cells is removed and stored. As a result, gaining weight becomes easier, even if our diets and exercise remain the same.
The study was published in the journal Nature Medicine, where scientists analysed fat cells in 54 men and women over a 13 year period. All subjects in the study showed decreases in their lipid turnover, regardless of whether weight was lost or gained during that period.
Researchers also looked at 41 women who had received weight loss surgery in their lifetime, to see if it affected their ability to keep the weight off post-surgery. They discovered that only those who had a low lipid turnover before their surgery managed to maintain their weight loss.
Peter Arner, Professor at Karolinksa Institutet and one of the study’s authors, said: “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”.
This information could be essential for healthcare professionals, as Peter added: “This could open up new ways to treat obesity”.
But if you’re trying to shed a few pounds, don’t give up just yet – turns out increasing your physical activity could be the solution.
One way to speed up lipid turnover in fat tissue is to increase exercise, which has been supported by previous studies. Study co-author and Senior Researcher at Karolinska Instituet said: “Obesity and obesity-related diseases have become a global problem.”
She added: “Understanding lipid dynamics and what regulates the size of the fat mass in humans has never been more relevant.”