Why we increase in age despite eating the same food

Why we increase in age despite eating the same food

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Fat metabolism decreases with age

With age, many people have trouble keeping their weight under control. A Swedish research team has now found out why.

For the first time, researchers at the Swedish Karolinska Institutet found reasons why people gain weight faster in old age. According to the study, lipid turnover in adipose tissue decreases as we get older. This makes it easier to gain weight even if the diet and exercise remain the same. The research results were recently presented in the renowned journal "Nature Medicine".

Age as a risk factor for weight gain

Many are familiar with the phenomenon: the belly grows and grows even though the diet has not changed. "It used to be no problem," people often think. In fact, age in itself appears to be a risk factor for weight gain, as a recent study shows.

Decrease in lipid turnover in adipose tissue

The researchers observed 54 men and women over a period of around 13 years. The scientists regularly examined the fat cells of the test subjects. Regardless of whether the participants had gained weight during the study period or not, the researchers found a decrease in lipid turnover in the adipose tissue in all participants.

What does lipid turnover say?

Lipid turnover is the rate at which fat (or lipid) is either removed or stored in the body. This change in fat tissue appears to be responsible for the faster weight gain in old age. Everything indicates that the body can process fat more poorly or more slowly with increasing age.

Fewer calories with age

This was also reflected in the research results. Those who did not change their diet with increasing age increased an average of 20 percent over the 13 years. In contrast, those who reduced their calorie intake over the years were able to maintain their weight.

Lipid turnover in stomach reduction

In another test, the researchers examined 41 women who underwent gastric reduction over a period of four to seven years. It can be seen that long-term weight loss through gastric reduction was maintained, particularly in women, who also increased lipid turnover.

How can lipid turnover be increased?

As the researchers report, previous studies have already shown that one way to accelerate lipid turnover in adipose tissue is to exercise more. The new research confirms this idea and further suggests that the long-term outcome of gastric reduction will improve if the procedure is combined with increased physical activity.

New therapeutic approaches against obesity

"The results show for the first time that processes in our adipose tissue regulate changes in body weight during aging regardless of other factors," explains study author Professor Peter Arner. This opens up new ways of treating obesity.

Obesity is becoming a global problem

"Obesity and the resulting complications have become a global problem," added Kirsty Spalding from the study team. Understanding about the dynamics of lipids and the regulation of fat mass has never been as relevant as it is today, says Spalding. (vb)

Suitable for the topic: Diet: The time of day influences fat metabolism and insulin sensitivity.

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • Peter Arner, Samuel Bernard, Kirsty Spalding, u.a .: Adipose lipid turnover and long term changes in body weight, Nature Medicine, 2019, doi: 10.1038 / s41591-019-0565-5,
  • Karolinska Institutet: New study shows why people gain weight as they get older (access: 04.12.2019),

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