Fit and Fabulous Over 40


Cause of Midlife Weight Gain

Cause of Midlife Weight Gain
June 28
13:30 2017

Are you one of the millions of women who experience weight gain as you get older? Are you eating less but still gaining weight? Do you also find that you don’t have stamina for physical exercise or activities as you used to?

On average, people gain about 30 pounds between the ages of 20 to 50. At the same time, their appetites tend to diminish and they eat less, but continue to slowly gain weight.

For years, this was just attributed with getting older but no one really understood why it happens. Women who were always slender and thin are told by older relatives to just wait until they get older the weight will come. I know one woman who is about 5’ 10” and at age 20, weighed about 100 pounds. She was considered underweight. Her sister, who is 23-years older, says she was the same way at that age, but when she reached 50 and 60 years of age, she started to gain the weight found herself no longer underweight. The younger sister, figured she would avoid that dilemma and remain thin with her hourglass figure as she got older, but by the time she reached her early 60s, she had gained weight and did lose the hourglass figure. She is one of those ladies that eats very little at mealtime. Many people have tried to talk her into eating more, as her plate always looks half empty, but like millions of other ladies, she indeed gained weight in midlife.

A group of researchers in the laboratory of Obesity and Aging Research at the US National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, believe they may have found the reason why this happens.

Since they cannot experiment on humans, they studied mice and looked for any biochemical changes that occurred as the mice aged. They discovered that as the mice reached middle age, an enzyme, named DNA-PK increased. As the enzyme increased, the mice put on weight and their ability to exercise or be physically active diminished. They found that this enzyme helps convert nutrients into fat that is then stored in the body.

Once they identified the enzyme DNA-PK and its effects on the mice, they developed a drug that served as inhibitor in the production of the enzyme. They tested the effectiveness of the inhibitor by using two groups of mice. Both groups were given the exact same amount of a high-fat diet. To one group, they gave the inhibitor but the other group did not receive the inhibitor. The group of mice that received the inhibitor gained 40% less weight than the control group.

Their goal now is to see if the same thing is happening in humans. If so, then an inhibiting drug could be used to control weight gain and even help in weight loss. Lead researcher, Dr. Jay Chung commented about the importance of their research:

“Our society attributes the weight gain and lack of exercise at midlife [approximately 30-60 years] primarily to poor lifestyle choices and lack of willpower.”

“This study shows that there is a genetic program driven by an overactive enzyme that promotes weight gain and loss of exercise capacity at midlife.”

“Our studies indicate that DNA-PK is one of the drivers of the metabolic and fitness decline that occurs during aging, which makes staying lean and physically fit difficult and increases susceptibility to metabolic diseases like diabetes. The identification of this new mechanism is very important for improving public health.”

“The study opens the door to the development of a new type of weight-loss medication that could work by inhibiting DNA-PK activity.”

Don’t think that you don’t have to watch your diet or stop exercising as you reach middle age. Your weight gain may not be JUST due to a chemical change in your body, but due to other factors like changes in diet or a lack of physical activity. In reality, it’s important to be more careful of your diet and to make sure you get plenty of exercise or physical activity, even if you don’t want to. If an enzyme in your body is converting more food to fat, then it’s important to reduce the amount of fat in your diet and become more active to burn more fat.

If Dr. Chung and his team succeed in discovering the process in humans and finding a drug to inhibit the enzyme from making more fat, it would benefit millions of women and men. Being able to control weight and body fat does reduce the chances of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.

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