President Uhuru Kenyatta when he was young and thin, older and fat
President Uhuru Kenyatta when he was young and thin, older and fat [Photo/Brenda Gamonde]

A new study has uncovered why many people gain weight as they grow old even if they check their diet or exercise.

The study published in the journal Nature Medicine and conducted at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden revealed that lipid turnover in the fat tissue decrease during aging making it easier to gain weight.

The News Medical Life Science defines lipid as, “molecules that contain hydrocarbons. They make up the building blocks of the structure and function of living cells. Examples of lipids include fats, oils, waxes, certain vitamins (such as A, D, E, and K) and hormones.

The researchers studied lipid or fat cells in 54 participants over an average period of 13 years.

During the study period, the participants showed decreases in lipid turnover in the fat tissue. That is the rate at which the lipid in the fat cells is removed and stored.

According to the study, the participants who ate fewer calories gained weight by an average of 20 %.


In another case study, the scientists examined lipid turnover in 41 women who underwent weight-loss surgery. They investigated how the lipid turnover rate affected their ability to keep the weight off four to seven years after surgery.

The findings revealed that the women 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.

“The results indicate for the first time that processes in our fat tissue regulate changes in body weight during aging in a way that is independent of other factors. This could open up new ways to treat obesity

 says Peter Arner, professor at the Department of Medicine at Karolinska Institutet.

“Obesity and obesity-related diseases have become a global problem. Understanding lipid dynamics and what regulates the size of the fat mass in humans has never been more relevant,” added Kirsty Spalding a senior researcher at Karolinska Institutet.

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 result of weight-loss surgery would improve if combined with increased physical activity.


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About the Author

Brenda Gamonde is reporter with Business Today. Email: [email protected]

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