By Emma Innes
At 38 and 44 years old, Reese Witherspoon and Ed Miliband need to watch out – for they are currently at the ages at which people are most likely to gain weight.
A new study has revealed these are the ages when we are most likely to pile on the pounds.
Eating two dinners, getting comfortable in relationships and long working hours are all to blame.
The study revealed that the danger zone for women is 35 to 40, with 38 being the most dangerous age of all.
The women surveyed picked this age saying they were less likely to gain weight after this as the prospect of turning 40 spurs them into shedding the pounds again.
Men’s most vulnerable age for weight gain comes a little later – 36 per cent say they will put on most weight between 40 and 45.
Men highlighted 44 as their most dangerous age for weight gain – largely because their career is peaking and they simply haven’t got time for exercise.
In a survey of 1,000 people for the diet company Forza Supplements, women highlighted a number of factors as to why 35 to 40 were the most destructive ages for weight gain.
Motherhood was chosen by 34 per cent of those polled.
They said they often eat dinner twice in a day – once with their children and once with their partners later in the evening.
Marriage was another factor in women getting middle-age spread with 32 per cent of women saying they put on weight after settling down with a long-term partner.
One of the key reasons for men getting a middle-aged spread was divorce, with 22 per cent saying it was a factor.
The average age for a man divorcing in the UK is 40 to 44, and single men are more likely to drink heavily and to eat out.
However, the most popular reason for men’s middle-aged spreads was work – with 36 per cent saying they were too busy with their careers to go to the gym.
Lee Smith, managing director of Forza Supplements said: ‘Weight gain in both men and women is quite normal and the process can begin at 30.
‘But by the time 40 is approaching, women are losing the battle with keeping extra weight off.
‘Most have children by then and have probably sacrificed hobbies like the gym or dance class to care for and entertain them.
‘Most don’t realise that as we age we need fewer calories, so to even maintain the same weight, we need to drop 200 calories per day.
‘Men have a little longer – their bodies haven’t been disrupted by childbirth. But time catches up with them – it’s significant that the average age for weight gain corresponds with a very stressful point in a man’s life.
‘Cortisol plays a big part in affecting weight – it will make people crave unhealthy foods and want to eat more often.
‘In our early and mid-thirties we stave off weight gain because we lead busy lives – work, exercise, socialising if we’re childless. If parents, most people of this age have small children so they remain active – getting in the swimming pool themselves, riding bikes.