According to the Health Survey for England 2019, only 13% of people aged 16-24 are obese, compared to 33% of the 45-54 age group.

Why You CANNOT Blame The Middle Age Spread On A Slower Metabolism!

Still struggling with those locking books? Having trouble fitting into your summer outfits? If you’re a middle-aged man desperately watching the numbers on the scale continue to rise, then you’re far from alone.

A new study from Cancer Research UK, published in May, suggested that if current trends continue, seven in ten Britons will be classed as overweight or obese by 2040 – and that’s a particularly big issue as we go 40s and beyond.

And a recent study in Finland found that piling on pounds in middle age makes you old before your time – obese 55-year-olds have health issues you don’t normally see until age 70. .

Yet according to the Health Survey for England 2019, only 13% of people aged 16-24 are obese, compared to 33% of the 45-54 age group.

Weight peaks between ages 65 and 74, with 36% obese and 39% overweight. After age 75 things change slightly, with 45% being overweight and 26% obese. This trend has catastrophic effects on health, increasing the risk of cancer, type 2 diabetes, depression and dementia.

According to the Health Survey for England 2019, only 13% of people aged 16-24 are obese, compared to 33% of the 45-54 age group.

But why do we gain weight in midlife?

For years, the culprit was thought to be a slow metabolism, but new research suggests that’s not the case.

Metabolism is the term for the chemical processes that help us use energy from food for vital functions such as breathing, pumping blood and fueling our organs.

There are two types of metabolic measurement. Your resting metabolic rate is the minimum amount of energy, or calories, needed to stay alive at rest and on an empty stomach. While total energy expenditure is the combination of your resting metabolic rate and the energy used for physical activity and food digestion.

For sedentary adults, resting metabolic rate accounts for about 50-70% of total energy consumption, digestion 10-15%, and physical activity the remaining 20-30%.

In a groundbreaking study last year, scientists measured the metabolic rates of 6,400 people aged eight days to 95 years and found that metabolism does indeed change with age, but not when you might think.

The study found that our metabolism – the amount of calories we burn for our height – peaks when we are just 12 months old. After that, it slows down by about 3% every year until we hit our 20s, when it stabilizes in a new normal and stays “rock solid” until we hit 60.

This means that a 50 year old woman will burn calories as efficiently as a 20 year old woman.

Professor John Speakman, a biologist at the University of Aberdeen’s Institute for Biological and Environmental Sciences, one of the authors of this study, published in the journal Science, told Good Health: “A surprising thing was that there was no decline in metabolic rate in midlife.

In a groundbreaking study last year, scientists measured the metabolic rates of 6,400 people aged eight days to 95 years and found that metabolism does indeed change with age - but not when you might think.

In a groundbreaking study last year, scientists measured the metabolic rates of 6,400 people aged eight days to 95 years and found that metabolism does indeed change with age, but not when you might think.

“So if you experience a middle-aged spread, you can no longer blame it on a declining metabolic rate.

“Previously, our metabolism was thought to speed up during adolescence and decrease in midlife, but the study found that, in fact, the rate at which we burn calories remains remarkably stable.”

After age 60, our resting metabolic rate declines by about 0.7% per year until, at age 90, our metabolism is 26% lower.

Research Associate Herman Pontzer, Associate Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology at Duke University in the US, said: ‘Our paper further supports the idea that our metabolism is hard to get going. Our body follows a programmed course throughout our lives, and there is not much we can do to change the energy burned per day.

Professor Speakman admits that, despite this, “many people struggle with their weight in their 40s”. So what’s up? The uncomfortable truth seems to be that we get fat because we eat too many calories, but often we don’t realize it.

“People are really bad at estimating their food intake, so they probably felt their intake was unchanged,” Prof Speakman says.

“This myth has built that the spread in middle age is due to declining metabolism – potentially contributed by reduced physical activity and/or altered resting metabolic rate,” he explains. “But we now know that’s not true.”

This agrees with the results of a study published last week, in the journal Cell, which found that naturally lean people are not more active than the rest of the population: they simply eat less.

And the spread in middle age, it seems, is a simple process of accumulation. As Professor Speakman explains, “The amount you need to overeat each day to gain 20 kg (44 lbs) over 15 years is not a lot.”

The process begins, he says, as we “eat and drink more” as “we become richer and have more disposable income” and “increased alcohol consumption could be another factor”.

What seems to encourage weight gain in middle age, however, is menopause. Studies show that while menopause doesn’t actually increase overall weight, it does affect how much fat versus lean tissue a woman has – and where that fat is stored.

In a five-year study of women aged 46 to 57 (published in the journal Climacteric in 1999), menopause appeared to trigger an increase in total body fat and especially abdominal (or visceral) fat.

Postmenopausal women have more visceral fat regardless of age, meaning menopause was the likely reason, according to Dr Sarah Berry, associate professor of nutritional science at King’s College London and chief nutrition scientist at the health sciences company ZOE.

His findings (published in The Lancet) were based on a metabolism study in 1,002 women who were premenopausal, perimenopausal, or going through menopause.

One reason could be that postmenopausal women ate more sugary foods, and according to Dr. Berry’s research, menopause changes the way sugar and fats are processed by the body. Previous studies have linked these changes to the drop in estrogen, a hormone that regulates fat distribution and insulin sensitivity. Genetics also play a role. Identical twins have nearly the same weight as adults, even though they are separated at birth.

Dr Giles Yeo, a neuroscientist at the University of Cambridge who studies the links between obesity and genes, says genes can affect our appetite, which means some of us are more likely to crave food. fatty foods.

He told Good Health that more than 1,000 genes are linked to obesity and that our brains need to be sensitive to how full we are, so any genetic mutation that causes mild insensitivity could make it harder to say no to obesity. temptation.

So what can we do if we accumulate the extra pounds? Sally Norton, an NHS gastrointestinal surgeon, says her top recommendation is to remove ‘chemical foods’ from our diets.

Ultra-processed foods such as mass-produced bread, ice cream, processed meat (including some vegan meat alternatives), chips, some convenience foods, cereals, cookies, and soft drinks together contribute 56 .8% of the calories in the British diet.

A 2019 landmark study from the US National Institutes of Health found that people eat mostly ultra-processed foods and consume an average of 500 more calories per day than those on a diet of unprocessed foods. Over two weeks, those who ate ultra-processed foods gained 2 pounds, while those who ate natural foods lost 2 pounds.

Dr Yeo says: “To lose weight, we need to eat less – and the easiest way to do that is to eat foods that fill us up.”

Sleep is also important, says Sally Norton, because sleep regulates the balance of hormones that affect hunger. She recommends aiming for seven hours a night.

A 2016 study at King’s College London found that sleep-deprived people ate 385 more calories per day. When they were forced to go through their day after less than five and a half hours of sleep, they were more tempted by unhealthy foods.

Exercises like running can help, but you have to work hard because studies suggest that to prevent weight gain in mid-life, runners need to increase their weekly distance by about 2.2 km per year. So someone who runs ten miles a week at age 30 must run 24 miles a week at age 40 to stay lean.

Meanwhile, US research shows that one to two hours a week of strength training reduces the risk of obesity over the next six years by 30% in both men and women.

Ultimately, if you want to keep your butt under control in your 40s, stop blaming your metabolism.

Historical case notes

Old medical practices still relevant. This week: Using the arts as therapy

The ancient theater of Epidaurus in Greece was not just a place of entertainment. Epidaurus was surrounded by a sanctuary, where patients came to be healed – and part of this involved “emotions of catharsis”, defined as an experience in response to music, poetry and tragedy. The idea that our emotions affect health is now well established. “We feel psychological pain in the same part of the brain as physical pain, which triggers the release of endorphins,” says Oxford University psychologist Dr Robin Dunbar, who led the study. He adds: “Endorphins are 30 times more powerful than morphine.

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