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Study suggests metabolism peaks at age one, declines after 60; here’s what doctors say

Between birth to age one, metabolism shifts from being the same as the mother's to a lifetime high of 50 per cent above that of adults, the study found

lifestyleSmall lifestyle changes can help improve metabolism, suggest doctors. (Source: getty images)

A recent study has found that metabolism remains stable between the ages 20 and 60, after which it declines by about 0.7 per cent a year. Researchers studied 6,400 people from eights days old up to the age of 95, in 29 countries for the study, published in the journal Science.

The study found four phases of metabolic life, as reported by BBC. Between birth to age one, metabolism shifts from being the same as that of the mother’s to a lifetime high of 50 per cent above that of adults. Then, there is a gentle slowdown until the age of 20 (approximately 3 percent a year) but researchers found no spike during puberty. Metabolism, thereafter, remains stable between the ages 20 and 60 and then there is a permanent decline with yearly falls. By the age of 90, it is about 25-26 per cent lower than in mid-life.

Responding to the study, Dr Suranjit Chatterjee, senior consultant, Internal Medicine, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi, tells, “I was expecting something similar. Obviously, the metabolism goes down when you are ageing and it is brisk when you are growing up. That is what we tell people that after 60, even with the same amount of food or exercise, they might gain more weight or have more illnesses, all because of the metabolism going down.”

Dr Chatterjee, however, says that the age group mentioned in the study needs further evaluation.

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As for the implications of the study, the doctor adds, “I think nothing has changed. This is what we have been believing in. What they have done now is to quantify it.”

The doctor further agreed that metabolism remains more or less stable in mid-life. “Of course, it varies between individuals. A few people have a hyper-metabolic phase. Overall, it remains reasonably stable between 20 and 60 unless we suffer from a new illness or malignancy then only it will vary.”

With regard to the pandemic, Dr Deepak Verma, internal medicine, Columbia Asia hospital, Ghaziabad, tells this outlet, “During the Covid-19 pandemic, metabolism has emerged as critical regulator of susceptibility to, recovery from, and survival after COVID-19.”


He adds, “It is very important to take care of metabolism and immunity amid a deadly pandemic. We recommend that by making small lifestyle changes like eating plenty of protein in every meal, doing regular exercise, drinking green tea and getting a good night’s sleep, people can boost their metabolism. The higher it is, the more calories you burn and the easier it is to lose weight and keep it off. Having a high metabolism can also give you energy and make you feel better.”

First published on: 13-08-2021 at 19:10 IST
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