Menacing midlife weight gain
has taken on epidemic proportions. Chalking it up to menopause is
a logical thought. But weight gain coincides with a woman’s
midlife years to a certain extent irrespective of the timing of
menopause. Which one is really to blame: is it aging, is it
menopause, or is it hormone therapy (HT)?
The truth is,
research is mixed regarding whether menopause causes weight gain, but
HT is definitely off the hook. For instance, some studies have
shown no significant differences in weight gain between hormone users
and nonusers after 15 years of testing. Others even suggest that
hormone therapy has a positive impact on the distribution of body
fat by preventing the development of android (around the waist)
body fat. In a recent study, three months of estrogen therapy has
shown a decrease in waist-hip ratio. No studies support the notion
that weight gain is caused by HT.
So what exactly is
adding to women’s waistlines? Research points to the following
Aging. Body fat continues
to accumulate during perimenopause and beyond, adding to the
ongoing fat storage that happens naturally throughout adult life.
Activity and metabolic rate tend to decrease with time. At
menopause, estrogen production goes low and stays low. Weight gain can
sneak up on you. Do the math; 15 extra calories per day (that
would be less than half of most cookies) is 2 pounds a year. So, 2
pounds a year for 5 years is 10 pounds.
Exercise and food choices. Eating “real” food is an
important way of controlling weight. Buy your groceries from the
outside aisles of your grocery store, picking fresh and frozen food
without labels. Stay away from fast food, junk food, snack food,
and processed food. Your portions should be no bigger than the
size of your fist. When you go out, bring tomorrow’s lunch home
(only eat half of the generous portions served in most
restaurants nowadays). Exercise is also important. While aerobic activities
are good, resistance exercise may provide greater weight control
benefits. Resistance exercise, such as weight training, builds more
lean body muscle tissue that burns more calories, helping women
to lose weight.
activities with friends, taking on new challenges, abstaining from
smoking, eating good food, exercising, and taking your
women’s one-a-day vitamin, vitamin D, calcium, and fish oil, help stop
the “fat chance.”
food, and attention to lifestyle have the added benefit of improving
overall health and well-being at the same time, while decreasing
menopause symptoms. Menacing midlife weight gain can be stopped in
its tracks and even reversed.
Last reviewed: November 2009
The Co-Editors of Menopause Flashes are Elizabeth Contestabile, RNC, BScN, Nurse Educator, Shirley E. Greenberg Women’s Health Centre, The Ottawa Hospital, Riverside Campus, Ottawa, ON, Canada; and Marcie K. Richardson, MD, Co-director, Harvard Vanguard Menopause Consultation Service, Boston, MA.
This e-newsletter, developed under the direction of the Consumer Education Committee of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS), provides current information, but not specific medical advice. It is not intended to substitute for the judgment of an individual’s healthcare provider. To unsubscribe, send us an e-mail request.
Copyright 2009. Distributing print copies of this e-newsletter, in whole or part, is strictly prohibited.
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