Your Middle-aged Middle is Risky
With ¾ of pound weight gain per year on average in mid-life, researchers found that even such a slight increase in weight leads to metabolic dysfunction, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
The incidence of diabetes in the US has doubled over the last 15 years, and mostly occurs in adults from age 65-79.
This follows on the heels of the fact that 70% of US men and women 60 or older are overweight or obese.
Most physicians know that adiposity is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes among, young and middle aged adults. There are certain lifestyle choices that contribute to the gradual weight gain the many people experience starting in their middle years.
Many of the small lifestyle choices adults can make, such as individual food choices, the quantity of sleep they get, their alcohol intake, and TV-watching habits all affect weight in surprising ways.
This challenges the conventional wisdom that it’s just a balancing act of calories consumed vs. calories burned.
A diet with more high-fat or high-carbohydrate foods promote weight gain. Most of the foods that were positively associated with weight gain were starches or refined carbohydrates. Researchers could not find a significant difference between low-fat vs. skim milk vs. whole milk, and the consumption of nuts was associated inversely with weight gain.
A matter of not just quantity, but also quality. The type of diet associated with less weight gain is the same diet that is linked to less diabetes and less heart disease. Important too, is the fact that with diabetes and heart disease, treatment is difficult, while prevention is more effect and more important.
With ¾ of pound weight gain per year in mid-life, researchers found that even such a modest increase in weight has implications for long-term adiposity-related metabolic dysfunction, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
Participants’ weight increased with higher consumption of potatoes, refined grains, 100% fruit juice, sugary sodas, alcohol, processed meats, and unprocessed meats.
When the subjects had increased intake of fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and yogurt, this led to weight reductions.
Small changes in diet and lifestyle can make a big difference for bad or for good. It’s important to pay attention to that because the weight creeps on so slowly. Adults in middle age often overlook these types of gains because they are so gradual. Diabetes risk multiplies with each pound gained, and this is much easier prevented than treated.
Mozaffarian D, Hao T, Rimm EB, et al. Changes in diet and lifestyle and long-term weight gain in women and men. N Engl J Med 2011; 364: 2392-2404