Don’t Men Tend to Gain Weight in their Middle Age Too?

Then why did this study only choose 192 women to do this study on?  And if the consensus is that you’ll gain weight just by being a woman living longer than 40 years, why is the result that you have to cut back on calories in order to not gain weight?

What’s wrong with just, you know, aging gracefully?

If you’re a 40-something woman, it doesn’t matter whether you’re thin or overweight — odds are, you’ll gain weight over time if you don’t make an effort to cut back on what you eat.

The finding comes from a study of 192 women with an average age of 40 by Brigham Young University researchers Larry A. Tucker, PhD, and Laura Bates. The women were not obese, had not yet reached menopause, and did not smoke.

The thing that gets me though, is the nonchalant attitude towards disordered eating:

Some earlier studies suggested that women who try to eat less actually end up gaining weight because their feelings of deprivation lead them to cycles of bingeing[sic]. But Tucker and Bates saw no evidence of this, even though they acknowledge that binge eating usually does occur in people trying to eat less.

“Tight regulation of food intake may lead to bingeing [sic] from time to time, but over the long term, fewer calories are consumed and the risk of weight gain is much less in women who practice restricted eating,” they suggest. “In fact, women have to increase restraint over time to keep from gaining weight and body fat.”

So, starving oneself to maintain a culturally acceptable weight or developing binging behavior is all acceptable.  Disordered eating is so much preferable to actually being fat.  Right?

Of course, this is only about women, only women were used in this study.  So, what I want to know is where’s the study talking about how men over 40 tend to gain weight and how they need to starve themselves? 

Gaining weight in middle age is about getting old.  Our bodies are not what they used to be, can’t do what they used to do.  In college, I could stay up 40 hours straight with little consequences.  Give me 10 uninterrupted hours of sleep after the all-nighter, and I was fantastic.  Now, at 42, I’m lucky if I can last 20 hours in a row, and then I need two or three good nights of sleep afterwards to feel good. 

As we get older, the metabolism slows down (or maybe becomes more efficient in processing the calories).  Why should we punish our bodies, ourselves, to maintain a youthful appearance?  And especially, why should we women buy into the crap that we need to maintain a culturally acceptable weight, no matter what the cost is, even if it means engaging in disordered eating behaviors?


9 Responses

  1. I’d take the extra weight from my hard-won ability to eat normally than a few less pounds and the shame and mental crazy that comes with binging and restricting.

    I also don’t want to dread getting older in anticipation of having to return to restricting and being nuts just so I don’t show the typical middle aged spread and my refusal to maintain a 19 year old’s body. If my old relatives are any indication, gaining weight as they aged helped them survive a variety of ailments that prevented eating, so I’m inclined to believe it happens for a reason – that I don’t plan on fighting!

  2. Why not men? Do you want the short, one word answer? Because that’d be Patriarchy.

  3. There’s also a boatload of evidence that weight gain as we age has a protective biological purpose – to protect against the wasting most elderly people experience (people over 65). Across the board elderly people who are thin have a much harder time bouncing back from cardiac events, diseases of age, etc.

  4. Next they are going to tell us that we should be ashamed of all the other body changing aspects of middle age: wrinkles, spider veins, gray hair, sagging skin. Oh wait…they do…24 hours a freaking day. My body is growing older by the day and there isn’t anything I can do about it. I guess I will just have to enjoy each day I am given. I wonder when they will try to put that in a box and sell it?

  5. Yeah, if you look at the men in your lives, you’ll see that most of them, as they age, aren’t as thin as they were at 19 or 20. Hell, I have pictures of my dad at 21, when he was in the Air Force, and he was downright skinny. As he aged, he gained weight (some was muscle, some was fat). At the age of 75, that fat has helped him survive 2 severe heart attacks, and he’s doing pretty well now (10 years after those heart attacks).
    For me, aging isn’t a big deal. I figure I’ve earned every one of the wrinkles and gray hairs I have, and I’m not interested in getting rid of them (or the fat or the saggy baggy skin/boobs/ass). All of those are my roadmap of the life I’ve lived, and I’m more proud of them than ashamed.

  6. I’m actually looking forward to getting older because that means NO MORE PERIODS!!!

  7. My landlord is getting chubbier than he likes. After 45 years of being skinny without effort, he now may have to drink less beer. The other thing he considers are more/longer bike rides. Unlike I would expect from most women, strange diets don’t cross his mind.

  8. My husband’s pant size was 30″x30″ when we started dating 17 years ago. He was always small and really didn’t begin to grow taller until he turned 19 (well after high school). Therefore, everyone that knows him from his childhood and beyond have always known him to be skinny.

    Well now he’s in a size 36″ waist pant and no one can believe he’s finally began to put on weight. I attribute it to him getting older and his metabolism slowing. He doesn’t eat any differently; but he is a bit more sedentary in his activities. Not that he use to work out or anything, but his previous job for 13 years had him lifting and moving things.

    Therefore, the original intent of my comment just changed midstream as I just realized that (1) his metabolism is slowing, and (2) he’s not as active as his body was use to. In the end; men gain weight as they get older just like women… We just tend to gain a big more!

  9. […] The Devil’s Panties has a new cartoon up that touches a little on what I wrote about in Don’t Men Tend to Gain Weight in their Middle Age Too?  So, please, go here to see her humorous take on […]

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