Lifestyle & Health : Weight gain worries 51-year-old woman

January 24, 2017
An overweight persons digs into a box of fast food.

Dianne has turned 51, and the last time she saw her monthly period was nearly a year and a half ago. Her weight gain has become worrying because she isn't eating any more than before.

Weight gain often occurs as people get older because the body's metabolism slows as we age. After age 45, the average individual loses about 10 per cent of their muscle mass per decade. This means that older people lose 1 1/2 pounds of muscle each year and gain at least that much in body fat. Muscles burn more calories than fat, so, for this individual, the total amount of calories ingested will need be to lessened.

Physical activity plays a big role in the body's composition and metabolism during the ageing process. Most individuals gradually reduce their level of physical activity as they age ,which further reduces the amount of calories needed by the body. Less activity also means less use of the muscles in the body, which also contributes to the changes in the body.

What this means is that the average 50-year-old woman needs between 300 and 500 fewer calories each day to maintain the same body weight.

Because of all these factors, it becomes obvious that the reason for gaining weight in older persons is not because of eating more, but because of eating the same while fewer calories are needed. Thankfully, exercise can help a lot with preventing the weight gain, and resistance weight training can increase metabolism and mitigate the body changes seen with ageing.

Recent studies have also shown that as we age, the appetite-suppressing cells are attacked by free radicals after eating, and this degeneration is most evident after eating a meal which is rich in carbohydrates. This reduction in appetite-suppressing cells is thought to be one more reason for 'adult-onset' obesity.




Particularly after menopause, about 60 per cent of women gain some weight. This is usually about one pound per year, usually accumulating around the abdomen. This weight gain can be very frustrating as hormonal and metabolic changes make it very difficult to lose the weight.

Remaining active as you age is very important, and exercise is crucial not only to stay slimmer, but to remain healthier and live longer.

Changing eating habits is never easy. This is especially so after decades of eating a particular way, but it is necessary to make the change in order to maintain a healthy weight. Cut the carbs!

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