women gain weightHave you ever wondered why women seem to carry more fat around their middles than men? New research has shown that it is all down to hormones, genetics and body shape, and that women really do gain weight more easily.

A recently published study on female mice showed that high fat food sets off a chemical reaction in women, causing them to store more fat in their abdomens and explaining why women often gain weight after menopause.

As fat burning molecules work to break down a high fat diet, they produce the enzyme, Aldehyde Dehydrogenase 1 (aldh1a1), which, in turn, produces more fat. Amongst other things, the enzyme produces a hormone, retinoic acid, which stimulates the production of visceral fat around internal organs, increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes and some cancers.

The study

Researchers monitored the weight of male and female mice, some normal and some who had been genetically altered to have the suspected fat-causing enzyme removed. They kept the mice on high fat diets and compared their weight gain and shape, between genders and between the normal and the genetically altered mice.

In mice that had the aldehyde dehydrogenase removed, the females lost a lot of weight, particularly around their abdomens, despite still having a high fat diet. The males still gained weight, but less than the normal males.

The study also looked at tissue taken from humans during surgery found that the levels of the enzyme were much higher in the visceral fat of overweight women than slimmer participants.

The science

Men and women produce the aldehyde dehydrogenase when they eat fatty foods but production in women is significantly higher, which means that they store more fat, particularly around their organs and abdomens. Scientists found that, without the aldehyde dehydrogenase, women could not produce retinoic acid, while males still produced small amounts.  Additionally, without the presence of retinoic acid, women burn fat spontaneously, so remain very slim.

Estrogen and fat burning

Estrogen can stop these fat-producing enzymes from working, which could explain why post-menopausal women are more susceptible to gaining weight around their middle, as they stop producing the aldehyde dehydrogenase-blocking estrogen.

What can you do?

Another leg of the research that specifically looked at the hormone levels in comparison with enzyme production and diet showed that the aldehyde dehydrogenase was only produced when women were on a high fat diet. It would appear that when the fat burning cells have too much to do they break down, releasing the enzyme. In trying to keep a lower fat diet you can limit the production of this new fat-making enzyme and keep your muffin top at bay!

If you are struggling with weight loss and need a hand getting on the right track contact one of our qualified case workers today on 1.866.668.9263.