Why do you gain weight as you age?
The reduction of energy expenditure at rest , which is the energy that is spent in maintaining basic vital functions (basal energy expenditure), is responsible for the increase in weight as the years go by , despite the fact that the same energy intake is maintained (calories) and the same or less physical activity.
Therefore, maintaining or varying body weight depends on the balance between the energy that is entered with food and beverages, and the energy that is spent in maintaining basic life functions (basal energy expenditure), how to perform the digestion of food, and with the physical activity that is carried out.
” If the balance is positive, we will gain weight , if it is balanced, we will maintain the weight, and if it is negative, we will lose weight”, said the doctor of the Obesity working group of the Spanish Society of Endocrinology and Nutrition (SEEN), Emilia Cancer.
Thus, once it stops growing, the energy expenditure at rest decreases approximately 5 percent for each decade and from 50 years approximately 10 percent for every ten years. Therefore, when you are younger, it is easier to lose weight because the energy expenditure at rest is higher.
From maturity the basal energy consumption by the body decreases and, therefore, consuming the same amount of food (the same calories) has a greater tendency to storage . This decrease in energy expenditure is related to different metabolic and hormonal factors that are variable according to sex.
Thus, sex hormones increase energy expenditure at rest and, in particular, more androgens than estrogen. “Therefore, a male of a certain age, height and weight has around 10 percent more energy expenditure at rest than a woman of the same age, height and weight.When a deficit of sex hormones occurs , such as in menopause , but also in men because of age or after some treatments (for example, for prostate cancer), the energy expenditure at rest decreases and the energy balance is more likely to be positive and gain weight if they are not modified eating habits and physical activity, “said the expert.
On the other hand, with increasing age, the deterioration that occurs at the musculoskeletal level and the increase in sedentary habits can lead to a gradual decrease in physical activity, resulting in lower energy expenditure . “Do not forget also that, sometimes, over the years produces alterations or diseases that limit the performance of physical exercise,” recalled Dr. Cancer.
Recommendations and keys to avoid gaining weight with age
Before all this, the SEEN has highlighted the importance of preventing the development of obesity from an early age, so it has recommended leading a healthy lifestyle , whether overweight or obese or not.
” It is not necessary to wait to have an excess of weight or an evident health problem to make changes in our eating habits and lifestyle.It should be noted that the populations whose individuals have normal weights are longer.The presence of obesity can condition our life expectancy “, the specialist pointed out.
According to different studies, obesity reduces life expectancy by an average of 12 yearsand increases the risk of death from other diseases.
“We must not forget that there are numerous health problems associated with obesity , among the most important are diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, dyslipidemia (increased cholesterol and / or triglycerides in the blood), chronic respiratory failure, obstructive sleep apnea or the appearance of some tumors such as colon, endometrium, breast, prostate, gallbladder , among others, on a psychological level favors anxious-depressive states, the patient’s low self-esteem and poor quality of life, and It can also lead to osteoarthritis, fertility disorders or urinary incontinence, “he added.
Now, that presenting obesity as one gets older will have fewer consequences than if it develops from an early age. However, the expert has stressed the need to avoid significant weight gains with age because we will have fewer tools to counteract the changes that occur at the level of basal metabolism.
Thus, from the SEEN it is advisable to follow a pattern of Mediterranean diet that includes mainly foods of vegetable origin, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and whole grain meals, skimmed milk, better fish than meat (and within meat, better those with less fat) and olive oil as the main source of fat.
“All this with some habits that are also healthy, such as sharing the intake of four or five meals a day and exercising regularly “, said Dr. Cancer.