It’s a pretty commonly heard complaint, the idea that you just can’t eat what you used to. But why is that so? Here are the reasons why we pile on the pounds as the years go by.
1. Lifestyle changes
According to a study of nearly 121,000 men and women recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine, on average, adults gain almost a pound in weight a year as they age. Most of that can be attributed to changes in diet such as eating extra servings of foods such as potato chips, French fries, sugar-sweetened drinks, white bread and low-fiber breakfast cereals. Other contributing factors included: decreased physical activity, increased alcohol intake, less than six hours of sleep a night or more than eight, and increased TV viewing.
Some interesting findings from the study:
- People who made the most unhealthful dietary changes gained nearly 4 pounds more in four years than those who had the healthiest dietary habits.
- People who ate an extra serving of chips a day gained an average of 1.7 pounds more in four years than those who didn’t eat that extra serving.
- People who drank one more sugar-sweetened beverage a day added an extra pound more in four years than those who didn’t.
2. Hormonal influences
As we get older our hormones begin to wreak havoc on us, causing not just weight gain but also an unusual distribution of our weight. You may find that your body seems to be storing extra weight in the belly area. Although this isn’t the most flattering area to store extra fat, the real problem is that carrying extra weight in this area can actually increase your risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes; this is known as metabolic syndrome.
3. Slowed metabolism
As we get older our metabolism begins to slow down a bit, and often we become more sedentary. When this happens, if we don’t compensate by eating less or exercising more, our slower metabolism will contribute to weight gain.
4. Genetic Predisposition
How and where we store fat is genetically determined at birth as is the body type that we are destined to have throughout life. Some women are “apple-shaped” and carry weight in their hips and abdomen, while some others are pear shaped and carry their weight in their butt and thighs.
The distribution of fat remains fairly constant as our weight goes up and down. Areas that are problem areas will always be problem areas regardless of how much weight is gained and lost. Besides the butt, thighs and stomach, other common problem areas include the knees and ankles, which tend to be more resistant to weight loss via exercise because they are genetically determined. The only way to correct fat in these areas is with surgery.