- Reviewed by Anthony L. Komaroff, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Health Letter
The reason for gaining weight isn't always a mystery. For example, you might know you've been eating more and exercising less, a potent combo that often results in extra pounds. But sometimes the cause isn't quite so obvious. And you might not be aware of many of the other factors that can contribute to weight gain.
Getting older brings physiological changes that can affect weight. Chief among them is muscle loss. Starting in middle age, we lose about 1% of muscle mass per year, which affects strength and metabolism (how fast we burn calories). "Smaller muscles use fewer calories. If your diet doesn't change, you'll consume more calories than you need. The excess is stored as fat," says Dr. Caroline Apovian, an obesity medicine specialist and co-director of the Center for Weight Management and Wellness at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital.
To continue reading this article, you must log in.
Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.
- Research health conditions
- Check your symptoms
- Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
- Find the best treatments and procedures for you
- Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.Sign Me Up
Already a member? Login ».
About the Author
Heidi Godman, Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter
About the Reviewer
Anthony L. Komaroff, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Health Letter
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.
No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.