A lot of men tend to agree with the statement that “things go downhill after 35.” Our guts begin to sag, our muscle tone decreases, our fitness efforts don’t see the same results they used to, and the list goes on. Don’t get me wrong: there are a lot of men who remain fit well into their golden years. But for those of us who already struggle with our fitness, midlife is a dreaded time.
Obesity is the #1 threat facing men in their midlife. Men in their 30s and 40s tend to spend more time at work and at home, and exercise often takes a back seat to career and family. Add to that higher instances of chronic diseases, and you’ve got a recipe that leads to higher obesity rates among middle-aged men.
According to a new study, there may be a new hope. A team of researchers at the National Institutes of Health and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute have discovered an enzyme named DNA-PK that plays a significant role in the eternal battle against weight gain. The problem is: DNA-PK is on the wrong team.
DNA-PK is responsible for turning nutrients into fat for storage, but it also decreases the number of mitochondria that turns the fat back into fuel to be used for energy. The more active this enzyme, the more body fat stored and the less body fat accessed and burned.
However, when the researchers used an inhibitor to prevent the expression of this enzyme, the men saw a 40% decrease in weight gain despite their high-fat diet. By turning off the enzyme, which usually is overactive in middle-aged men, the researchers were able to fight obesity at its source. The men didn’t engage in any extra physical activity or change their diets in any way. The only thing that changed was the expression of the DNA-PK enzyme, and shutting it down led to visible results.
The study indicates that lifestyle and diet may not be as responsible for middle-aged obesity as once thought. If DNA-PK really is as influential as this study indicates, it may be the primary cause behind that weight gain and gut growth so common among middle-aged men. Scientists may be able to effectively fight middle-aged obesity by producing new medications that inhibit the expression of this enzyme. Perhaps a new, effective weight loss medication is on its way in the near future.
1.Sung-Jun Park, Oksana Gavrilova, Alexandra L. Brown, Jamie E. Soto, Shannon Bremner, Jeonghan Kim, Xihui Xu, Shutong Yang, Jee-Hyun Um, Lauren G. Koch, Steven L. Britton, Richard L. Lieber, Andrew Philp, Keith Baar, Steven G. Kohama, E. Dale Abel, Myung K. Kim, Jay H. Chung. “DNA-PK Promotes the Mitochondrial, Metabolic, and Physical Decline that Occurs During Aging.” Cell Metabolism, 2017; 25 (5): 1135.