Middle-Age Women: Eat Less or Weight More

If you’re a middle-aged woman, it doesn’t matter if you’re overweight or thin. As you age, you’ll gain extra pounds if you don’t make some effort to cut back on your food consumption. Nutritionists have been arguing over whether eating less leads to long-term weight loss, since it can sometimes backfire, triggering uncontrolled appetite and weight gain.

A three-year research suggests, however, that cutting calorie intake can be very beneficial, especially as women age. The research, published in the American Journal of Health Promotion, finds that middle-aged women who don’t cut back on calories have higher risk of substantial weight gain.

The study

Brigham Young University (BYU) researchers studied information about the eating habits, health, and lifestyles of 192 middle-aged women. The researchers followed these participants for three years. After three years, the participants underwent a round of detailed physical exams, such as measures of body fat and weight. The women also underwent a seven-day food-intake analysis. Here, they weighed and documented every detail of the food they ate.

The results

Results suggest that middle-aged women are more than twice at risk of significant weight gain if they don’t cut back on their food consumption. According to the researchers, their study revealed that aging women who didn’t eat less were 138% more likely to add to their weight 6.6 pounds or more.

According to Larry Tucker, BYU professor and the lead author of the study, "Some suggest that restrained eating is not a good practice," adding that "Given the environmental forces in America’s food industry, not practicing restraint is essentially a guarantee of failure."

Weight control principles

Lance Davidson, a Columbia University researcher, said the BYU findings highlight some major weight control principles. According to him, "Because the body’s energy requirements progressively decline with age, energy intake must mirror that decrease or weight gain occurs. Dr. Tucker’s observation that women who practice eating restraint avoid the significant weight gain commonly observed in middle age is an important health message."

Tips for healthy eating

The benefits of eating less as you age aren’t limited to the reflection you see in your mirror. Healthy eating means better health, and eating properly is an important skill that must be practiced. Professor Tucker offers the following tips for healthy eating: First, record every detail of what you consume and how much. Second, cut back on the food you put on your plate. Third, eat plenty of fruits and veggies.