Menopause Weight Gain
Weight gain in menopausal women, particularly in the abdominal area, is associated with decreased levels of the hormone estrogen. Fat accumulates around the stomach area, not around the hips and thighs as it does at a younger age. The exact mechanism of this weight gain is not fully understood. Also, with increasing age, there is more conversion of muscle tissue into fat and a tendency to gain weight. Women going through menopause may become less physically active, or change eating habits. Metabolism also slows down with increasing age. All these factors contribute to cause weight gain in women soon after menopause. Contrary to popular belief, hormone replacement therapy has not been shown to cause weight gain; it may actually have a protective effect.
Weight gain in the abdominal area should be kept in check, as it is associated with an increased chance of developing heart disease. This is accentuated by higher cholesterol levels in post-menopausal women. Weight gain may also lead to reduced physical activity, which in turn can result in further loss of muscle mass and weakening of the bones. Other conditions associated with weight gain are high blood pressure and diabetes. It is therefore important to prevent excess weight gain after menopause.
Steps women can take to limit weight gain are moderate exercise for at least 30 minutes each day and eating low-fat and high-fiber foods such as fruit and vegetables. It is important to avoid crash and fad diets as such diets result in more muscle loss and slow down the body's metabolism. Foods rich in fats, such as chocolate and fast food, should be sparingly consumed or avoided. Regular contact with a physician, dietician or other health care provider can improve chances of successful weight maintenance or weight loss.