World Menopause Day 2012 marks a major milestone in progressive attitudes towards menopause and women’s health issues. This year the International Menopause Society (IMS) focuses attention on weight gain during menopause and stresses the importance of having a weight management plan.
Menopause gets blamed for thicker middles and extra pounds. There is some truth to this in that during perimenopause women do experience changes that contribute to weight gain. Slower metabolisms prevent the efficient calorie burning of the past. One of the most troubling parts of mid-life weight gain is not just the extra pounds but where they end up.
Women will notice that their weight is distributed differently compared to the past. By middle age, testosterone and estrogen hormone levels dictate weight settlement around the waist, even for women who previously carried their weight on their hips. Thickening middles also appear more resistant to exercise and diet routines.
The IMS has released a slide show and article dealing with weight gain during middle age to help women and healthcare providers. Two very important points highlight this user-friendly information.
“Body mass index (BMI) does not differ between premenopausal and postmenopausal women, after adjusting for age and other covariants” (Matthews KA et al. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 2001;25:863–73)
Menopause alone is the one cause behind weight gain. Each woman is different and so are her personal health characteristics. Factors including diet, exercise habits, metabolism, genetic history, and additional matters including depression all affect weight gain. Some women blame menopause when there is a clear pattern of poor lifestyle habits that are more likely behind those extra pounds.
“The steady weight gain in women (approx 0.5 kg/year) is due to age rather than the menopause” (Sternfeld B et al. Am J Epidemiol 2004;160:912–22)
The report does not eliminate menopause as a cause. It does however make women aware that the weight gain results from several individual circumstances.
Returning to the abdominal weight gain, there are links between how that weight is distributed and here menopause does play a role. Even women who do follow an exercise program will notice how weight has shifted and settled in the waist area. The report continues with recommendations including lifestyle modification and in some cases estrogen hormone replacement therapy to even out fluctuation hormone levels.
World Menopause Day 2012 is the perfect time to learn more about mid-life weight gain and the things women can do to take control of their health. The IMS article and slideshow are available in several languages including English, French, Spanish, Arabic, and Italian among others. These items may be accessed at the following link: