Menopause weight gain: Stop the middle age spread

Published On: Jun 20 2013 07:57:58 AM PDT   Updated On: Jul 02 2013 12:24:15 PM PDT
woman with apple, bottle of water after workout

By Mayo Clinic News Network

As you get older, you might notice that maintaining your usual weight becomes more difficult. In fact, many women gain weight around the menopause transition.

Menopause weight gain isn't inevitable, however. You can reverse course by paying attention to healthy-eating habits and leading an active lifestyle.

What causes menopause weight gain?

The hormonal changes of menopause might make you more likely to gain weight around your abdomen than around your hips and thighs. Hormonal changes alone don't necessarily trigger menopause weight gain, however. Instead, the weight gain is usually related to aging, as well as lifestyle and genetic factors.

For example, muscle mass typically diminishes with age, while fat increases. Loss of muscle mass decreases the rate at which your body uses calories, which can make it more challenging to maintain a healthy weight. If you continue to eat as you always have and don't increase your physical activity, you're likely to gain weight.

Genetic factors also might play a role in menopause weight gain. If your parents or other close relatives carry extra weight around the abdomen, you're likely to do the same.

Sometimes factors such as the stress of children leaving -- or returning -- home, divorce, the death of a spouse, or other life changes might change your diet or exercise habits and contribute to menopause weight gain.

How risky is weight gain after menopause?

Menopause weight gain can have serious implications for your health. Excess weight increases the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and various types of cancer, including colorectal cancer and breast cancer.

What's the best way to prevent weight gain after menopause?

There's no magic formula for preventing -- or reversing -- menopause weight gain. Simply stick to weight-control basics:

Remember, successful weight loss at any stage of life requires permanent changes in diet and exercise habits. Take a brisk walk every day. Try a yoga class. Swap cookies for fresh fruit. Split restaurant meals with a friend. Commit to the changes and enjoy a healthier you!

Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/menopause-weight-gain/HQ01076/NSECTIONGROUP=2