Sometime between the ages of 40 and 50, both men and women tend to have increased difficulty staying slim. For women, weight gain usually coincides with menopause or the years leading up to menopause. Changing hormone levels during this time may result in weight gain of about a pound a year. Meanwhile, these changes can encourage fat to accumulate around your abdomen, instead of your hips and thighs.
At the same time, as people age their bodies promote the replacement of muscle with fat. Since muscle burns more calories than fat does, this change means that your metabolism slows down. Further, physical activity tends to slow down as well. The resulting middle-age spread can quickly add up to 10, 20 or more pounds over a decade, impacting not only your physical appearance but also your health.
Of particular concern is visceral fat, which is located in the abdomen and surrounding vital organs. It can infiltrate your liver and other organs, streak through your muscles and even strangle your heart; and you can have it even if you appear to be thin or have just a small belly.
Visceral fat is linked to everything from bad cholesterol and hypertension to diabetes, heart disease and stroke. And those who are shaped like apples (who carry weight around their abdomen), something that tends to occur with age-related weight gain, are at a higher risk than pear shapes (who carry fat around their hips, thighs and bottom).
The good news is that age-related weight gain is not written in stone. That is, it’s perfectly possible to stay slim and trim no matter what your age, and there are plenty of people who do just that.