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Older people who have trouble losing weight might try dumping their three squares a day in favor of eating smaller meals more often, researchers advised Tuesday.

A U.S. Agriculture Department study found that older people cannot burn fat as efficiently as younger people when they get food in big doses -- which could explain middle-aged spread.

The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that women in their 60s and 70s burned fat at a rate 30 percent lower than women in their 20s.

Most people do gain weight as they get older, but experts recommend gaining no more than 11 pounds between early adulthood and middle age.

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