Most recent update: Tuesday, September 17, 2019 - 16:32

Bariatric News - Cookies & privacy policy

You are here

Age and obesity

Study shows why people gain weight as they get older

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

Researchers at Karolinska Institutet, in Sweden, have uncovered why many people struggle to keep their weight in check as they get older. According to the study, the lipid turnover in fat tissue decreases during ageing and makes it easier to gain weight, even if one does not eat more or exercises less than before.

In the study, ‘Adipose lipid turnover and long-term changes in body weight’, published in the journal Nature Medicine, the scientists studied the fat cells in 54 men and women over an average period of 13 years. In that time, all subjects, regardless of whether they gained or lost weight, showed decreases in lipid turnover in the fat tissue, defined as the rate at which lipid in the fat cells is removed and stored.

Kirsty Spalding (Credit: Stefan Zimmerman)

Those who did not compensate for that by eating fewer 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.

"Obesity and obesity-related diseases have become a global problem," said Kirsty Spalding, senior researcher at the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Karolinska Institutet and one of the study's main authors. "Understanding lipid dynamics and what regulates the size of the fat mass in humans has never been more relevant."

The researchers also examined lipid turnover in 41 women who underwent bariatric surgery, and how the lipid turnover rate affected their ability to keep the weight off four to seven years after surgery. The result showed that only those who had a low rate before the surgery managed to increase their lipid turnover and maintain their weight loss. The researchers believe these people may have had more room to increase their lipid turnover than those who already had a high-level pre-surgery.

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, and further indicates that the long-term results of weight-loss surgery would improve if combined with increased physical activity.

"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," said Peter Arner, professor at the Department of Medicine in Huddinge at Karolinska Institutet and one of the study's main authors. "This could open up new ways to treat obesity."

Want more stories like this? Subscribe to Bariatric News!

Bariatric News
Keep up to date! Get the latest news in your inbox. NOTE: Bariatric News WILL NOT pass on your details to 3rd parties. However, you may receive ‘marketing emails’ sent by us on behalf of 3rd parties.