Recommendations for managing weight gain in women in midlife

By Liz Meszaros, MDLinx
Published October 9, 2017

Key Takeaways

Due to hormonal and metabolic changes, postmenopausal women have some of the highest rates of obesity in the country. Therefore, primary care providers should screen all women in their 50s and 60s for overweight and obesity, and help them incorporate behavioral interventions, including psychological support, according to a recent study by researchers from the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN. They published their results in the current issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

“This population of women faces multiple challenges for maintaining a healthy weight,” said lead author Ekta Kapoor, MBBS, endocrinologist, Mayo Clinic. “Mood changes, sleep disturbances, hot flashes, and the many other changes of menopause can disrupt what may have previously been a healthy lifestyle.”

For women in their 50s and 60s, the average weight gain is 1.5 pounds per year, much of which will occur in the midsection. This type of fat, unfortunately, is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, which is the number 1 cause of death in postmenopausal women. Central weight distribution is also associated with a higher risk for abnormal glucose and lipid levels, as well as high blood pressure, the authors noted.

In women with bothersome menopausal symptoms, hormone therapy may be considered, and although it is not recommended as a treatment for central obesity, it may bring about positive changes in body fat distribution.

“In addition to the usual adverse consequences of obesity, postmenopausal women face some unique challenges posed by obesity, including worse hot flashes, sexual dysfunction and an increased cancer risk,” said Dr. Kapoor.

“Targeting the lifestyle habits during midlife and beyond will help prevent further health consequences down the road. It’s never too late to start making healthy lifestyle choices,” she concluded.

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