Many men and women tend to gain weight as they grow older, especially after having children, and with the added pressures of family and career encroaching into what used to be regular exercise routines, said Dr Lim Su Lin, chief dietitian at the National University Hospital.
Also, the unhealthy meals taken at work, stress from high-pressure jobs and a sedentary lifestyle which slows down metabolism further, as well as bad habits such as overeating, can cause one’s weight to creep up over the years, she added.
There are many physiological changes which occur with age and affect body weight.
First, the body’s metabolic rate naturally slows down and burns fewer calories, said Dr Lim.
The body’s muscle mass starts to decrease around the age of 30 and since muscles burn more calories and keep your body lean, weight gain occurs, she said.
Hormonal changes during menopause (for women) and andropause (for men) cause an increase in fat cells, especially around the abdominal area (belly fat).
Studies have shown that, from the age of 30, a person can easily put on up to half a kilogram of weight per year without realising it. This can add up to 5kg in 10 years.
Studies have shown that over 90 per cent of newly diagnosed Type 2 diabetics are overweight or obese.
Dr Lim said this shows clearly that being overweight or obese is a risk factor for diabetes and if we can do something to prevent or overcome obesity, Singapore’s diabetes rate will likely come down.
Keeping to a healthy weight throughout one’s life is not just about looking good. Studies have proven that keeping to a healthy weight reduces the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, stroke, gall bladder disease and certain cancers.
As the saying goes, “think of diet as medicine before medicine becomes your diet”, said Dr Lim.
And it is not impossible to keep excess weight off throughout the different stages of life.
She gives some tips on how to achieve this: