Fighting Fat and Flab After 50

risk of obesityDo you want to grow old and still look fabulous?  The fight against flab during aging may be quite challenging but a recent report highlighted a simple, yet promising technique in winning the battle against obesity through the control of metabolism.  According to a recent report published in the journal PLoS One, maintaining a normal sleeping pattern may actually control the metabolic rate, decrease the risk of obesity, and help maintain a healthy body even after 50.

Most of the biochemical activities occurring in our body are controlled by a circadian rhythm, or the biological clock that is influenced by the daylight hours or wakefulness.  During the day, most of us are awake and busy with our daily routine activities, such as working, traveling, and studying.  On the other hand, evenings are generally spent resting or sleeping.  Research has shown that a shift in the circadian rhythm may actually disrupt bodily functions, including that of metabolism, which is a major factor associated with obesity.


Know the Facts – What Obesity Means

Obesity is generally defined by the body mass index, or the ratio of one’s height and weight, and individuals with a body mass index greater than 25.8 are classified as obese.  The risk of obesity is may decrease when one tries to lose weight by engaging in specific activities that are strongly associated with obesity, such as refraining from eating junk food, exercising, and sleeping.  Leading a generally healthy lifestyle, including refraining from eating junk food and instead choosing natural food items, may thus effectively decrease the risk of obesity.

According to the scientific report, the metabolic rate and the risk of obesity may be largely influenced by one’s circadian clock.  Using a mouse model that was subjected to various sleep patterns, the study showed that a shift in the nocturnal hours of mice resulted in changes in the feeding behavior and metabolism of these animals, thus increasing the risk of obesity.  It should be understood that obesity in humans is strongly associated with excessive eating of junk food and other food items rich in sugars and fats.  Poor food choices such as junk food may not only increases the risk of obesity, but also trigger the development of other medical conditions such as cardiovascular and cancer.

The mouse experiment involved the restriction of sleep in mice for approximately two weeks and monitoring their behavior in terms of feeding, metabolism, and likelihood of developing obesity.   The results of the study showed that mice deprived of sleep tend to consume more food, thus increasing their risk of obesity.  In addition, these tiny friends of ours also showed changes in the biochemical reactions in the liver, thus disrupting the capacity to metabolize the food items consumed, which may eventually result in obesity.


What the Results Mean For Your Risk of Obesity

Translating the results of this animal study suggests that obesity may develop from a simple disruption in sleeping patterns.  A shift in our circadian clock simply would mean more hours spent awake and thus a greater chance of searching for food during the early hours of the morning.  Junk food is generally the most convenient food item that is consumed during the late hours of the evening, thus increasing the risk of obesity.  Shifts in the sleeping pattern may also result in changes in the metabolic rate, including that of the metabolism of sugars and lipids present in junk food.  Actively engaging in activities that are strongly associated with obesity, including that of consuming junk food, and coupling this with changes in the work schedule may thus later possibly result in obesity.

The scientific report thus highlighted the importance of controlling the amount of food intake when working on the night shift because the metabolic rate of the body is slower during these hours.  It may also be helpful to decrease the amount of junk food consumed, thus facilitating in fighting obesity.  We often take sleep for granted yet this scientific report showed that this simple act of going to bed at regular hours could be the most effective method in decreasing the risk of obesity.  Normal sleeping patterns may decrease the chances of consuming junk food at night, as well as increasing the chance for our bodies to recover from a busy day at work.  Sleep disruption may also trigger other conditions that may be harmful to the body, including that of disrupting the body’s capacity for metabolism, thus increasing the risk of obesity.  So the next time you find yourself up all night and start to feel the initial sensations of hunger— skip the junk food and go for fruits and vegetables instead.