Women may face a double weight-gain whammy

Women may face a double whammy when it comes to weight gain, a new Yale-led study has found.
A bathroom scale with an apple and measuring tape on top.

Is it really harder for women to lose weight than men? According to a Yale study, it could be. (Image via Pixabay)

Women may face a double whammy when it comes to weight gain, a new Yale-led study has found.

Male mice on a high-fat diet add cells in visceral white adipose tissue, which makes up the lion’s share of stomach fat, but they do not gain more cells in subcutaneous adipose tissue, which mostly accumulates around the butt and thighs.

As they gain weight on a high-fat diet, female mice add more fat cells in both areas, according to a study published online June 16 in the journal Cell Metabolism. The increased fat cell accumulation is particularly troublesome, said the researchers, as previous studies have shown that the extra fat cells that form during weight gain stick around, ready to fill with fat again when a diet goes bust.

This could make it harder for women to both lose weight and maintain weight loss,” said Matthew Rodeheffer, associate professor of comparative medicine and of molecular, cellular, and developmental biology, the senior author of the study.

Men, however, have little reason to celebrate, warned Rodeheffer. Accumulations of visceral fat have been shown to have negative health impacts, while additional subcutaneous fat may even be protective, he noted.

Rodeheffer’s lab is now looking at how dietary fats drive fat cell formation and weight gain but, for now, he said “unfortunately, the best advice is to try not to gain the weight in the first place.”.

Elise Jeffery of Yale is the lead author of the paper. 

Research was funded by Women’s Health Research at Yale and the National Institutes of Health.


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Bill Hathaway: william.hathaway@yale.edu, 203-432-1322