New research from Sweden suggests that “lipid turnover” – the rate at which fatty acids in the fat cells is removed and stored – decreases during ageing. This makes it easier to gain weight, even if the amount we eat and exercise stays the same. For the study, published in the journal Nature Medicine, scientists analysed 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 their fat tissue.
Those who didn’t compensate for that by eating less calories gained weight by an average of 20%, according to the study.
Researchers also examined lipid turnover in women who underwent weight loss surgery to see how the rate affected their ability to keep the weight off after surgery. Only those who had a low lipid turnover rate before surgery managed to increase their lipid turnover and maintain their weight loss.
“Obesity and obesity-related diseases have become a global problem,” added Kirsty Spalding, senior researcher at Karolinska Institutet and study co-author. “Understanding lipid dynamics and what regulates the size of the fat mass in humans has never been more relevant.”