New Swedish study debunks unexplained weight gain in older adults

September 20, 2019

Most people have some form of weight gain as they age, even if they don’t eat more or exercise less than their younger days. Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet (KI) has now found out that the lipid turnover – the rate at which lipid/fat is removed and stored – in fatty tissues decreases with age, and so, makes it easier to pack on the pounds.

For the study, the fat cells in 54 men and women were studied over an average period of 13 years – in that time, all subjectsshowed decreases in lipid turnover in the fat tissue, regardless of weight gain or loss, but those who didn’t compensate for that by eating less calories gained weight by an average of 20%.

Peter Arner, Professor at KI’s Department of Medicine, said the study showed that processes in our fat tissue regulate changes in body weight during ageing independently of other factors.

In another 41 women who underwent bariatric surgery, only those with a low lipid turnover rate pre-surgery managed to increase their lipid turnover and maintain their weight loss about five years post-surgery. The KI researchers think these women may have had more leeway to increase their lipid turnover than the others who already had a high-level before the surgery.

Exercise has been observed to speed up the lipid turnover in the fat tissue over time, so the long-term result of weight-loss surgery would definitely improve if combined with increased physical activity.

Meanwhile, Kirsty Spalding, a senior researcher at KI, has noted that the better understanding of lipid dynamics and regulation of fat mass in humans will underscore new treatments to obesity, which is currently a global pandemic.


Category: Education, Features

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